A white Florida police officer was charged with battery Tuesday for allegedly shoving a kneeling Black woman to the ground during a protest march last month, prosecutors said.
Broward State Attorney Mike Satz said Fort Lauderdale officer Steven Pohorence, 29, was seen “intentionally touching or striking” the 19-year-old woman during a civil rights protest march on May 31.
The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. Satz said in a news release that the decision on whether to seek a misdemeanor or felony charge was based on the extent of the injuries suffered by the woman, identified as Jada Servance in court documents.
The case was investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The encounter was captured on video during one of the marches around the country protesting police brutality after the police custody death in Minneapolis of an African American man, George Floyd.
Pohorence was previously suspended by the Fort Lauderdale police chief.
It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday if Pohorence has a lawyer to speak for him. The union representing Fort Lauderdale officers has declined comment. An initial court date has not yet been set.
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione suspended Pohorence after video showed he pushed a kneeling black woman to the ground during protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, escalating a clash where bottles were thrown and tear gas was fired.
Colleagues quickly pushed him away from the woman and down the street Sunday. Police and city officials said it happened as a peaceful demonstration attended by about 1,000 people was dispersing, and smaller groups broke some store windows and sprayed graffiti.
Maglione did not defend the actions of Officer Pohorence, but said on June 1 that Pohorence pushed the woman after he and other officers had just rescued one colleague who had become surrounded and another from a patrol car that people began jumping on.