Palm Beach News

Jury Finds PBSO Deputy Guilty of Excessive Force

Back in 2008, a woman claimed that she was pulled over for a blaring stereo in Belle Glade -- and that her encounter with police ended with a beating in the back of a police car. She filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office. This month, a federal court in Miami heard Maria Paul's claims about her run-in with former PBSO deputy Michael Woodside. After deliberation, the panel found that Woodside and PBSO were liable for the use of excessive force.

The suit claimed that on Christmas Day 2008, Paul was pulled over and cited for having her stereo up too loud. Following the stop, Paul drove off for a moment until she was pulled over again by Woodside. The deputy put her in a "chokehold position, slammed her body to the ground, and handcuffed" Paul, the suit claimed.

The encounter ended with Paul handcuffed in the back of Woodside's cruiser, where the deputy "repeatedly punched her about the face and body," according to the original complaint.

Woodside, it turns out, was just one of a number of rogue, racist cops running free in Belle Glade at the time.

This month, an eight-person jury heard Paul's case against the office and its former employee. Of the eight counts outlined in Paul's suit, the jury deliberated on only two -- excessive and unreasonable force by Woodside and PBSO. The jury found in Paul's favor on both counts and awarded the woman $75,000 for the incident.


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Kyle Swenson
Contact: Kyle Swenson