It hasn't been a great week for Fort Lauderdale police. First the Pulp picked up a video of a dude getting arrested for the hideous crime of requesting a cop's badge number. The guy's girlfriend caught the whole unnecessary fiasco on her cel phone.
And this week the Juice talked to a gay man who claims that a routine traffic stop turned into a "very horrible situation" that he's still recovering from. Ronald Clouse says he was beaten unconscious by Fort Lauderdale PD after a traffic stop on December 26, 2009.
We'll be getting more details on this case, both from the state attorney and Lauderdale PD, where Clouse filed an internal affairs complaint. And like Bob Norman, we'll make a clear statement here to ward off potential charges that we're cop haters: We emphatically aren't. We have friends and relatives who are cops too, good ones. But that isn't going to stop us from looking into reports of police abuse.
What we have so far of the the story goes like this:
43-year-old Ron Clouse, a former commodities broker who lives in Boca Raton, was on his way to meet friends on Las Olas Boulevard. Clouse, a slender man of 140 pounds, was riding his green Yamaha. He had his blond hair in a ponytail and was wearing no helmet. But the bike was giving him problems. He was trying to figure out what was wrong with it, slowing and accelerating. Clouse says he didn't notice that a cop was following him, trying to pull him over.
The probable cause affidavit signed by Fort Lauderdale PD officer T.M O'Neil says that Clouse pulled up at a stoplight next to another car in the same lane on Oakland Park Boulevard. When the light turned green, Clouse accelerated and passed in front of the other car. O'Neal says he attempted to pull Clouse over for the traffic infraction, and that Clouse kept slowing down significantly, so that O'Neal thought he was pulling over. But he'd always speed up again and move on.
Eventually, O'Neal says he gave up following Clouse. But a citizen stopped him and asked if he were looking for a green motorcycle. O'Neal said he was. The civilian told the cop that Clouse's motorcycle had broken down on Las Olas.
When O'Neal pulled up, Clouse was sitting on his motorcycle attempting to get it started. The cop says he got it fired up, and then hit the curb trying to flee again, so that he fell. Clouse says several officers approached him, and one called him a faggot, saying something about his "man purse." As Clouse recalls it, O'Neal pushed or punched him so he fell off his bike, and the bike fell on top of him. He says he was "beaten unconscious." He was taken to Broward General where, according to police reports, he was treated for a laceration to the forehead and a fractured nose.
Clouse says he has had to have two surgeries, and his vision in his right eye is still impaired. He can't talk about the incident without weeping. He was charged with felony fleeing from a LEO, driving with a suspended license, and resisting arrest without violence. He has no priors. He says he's terrified that he could face 5-15 years in jail.
Clouse's criminal attorney, Eric Schwartzreich, who's defending him on the felony charges, says he believes Clouse's story is credible. Schwartreich's legal assistant, Jennifer Allen, accompanied Clouse to file his internal affairs complaint.
"My father was the chief of police in the town I grew up in," Clouse told us by phone. "I never imagined that anything like this would ever happen to me. But I'm still so upset I have trouble leaving the house. I never really thought much about post-traumatic stress, but now I think that's exactly what I'm feeling."
Clouse, who had lost his health insurance, says he'll have to pay thousands in medical expenses. He's pleaded not guilty to the felony charges.
We contacted Fort Lauderdale PD spokesman Frank Sousa for details on the internal affairs complaint, and he says he's looking into it. We'll update when we have more info.