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Fort Lauderdale police mistook 'Star Trek' memorabilia for weapons: lawsuit

The Hill logo The Hill 4/8/2021 Lexi Lonas
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A lawsuit against the Fort Lauderdale Police Department alleges that officers mistook "Star Trek" memorabilia for weapons when they used excessive force in arresting two brothers.

Two brothers, Raymond and Randall Purcell, allege that their civil rights were violated when police used excessive force after responding to a call about one of their cars having been keyed, the Miami Herald reported.

When officers Steven Pohorence and Alexander Paul arrived, they said there would be no investigation into who keyed the car because the damage was below $1,000.

After Raymond Purcell hit his hand off the car in frustration and attempted to go inside, the officers allegedly used excessive force to arrest him.

Paul allegedly hit Raymond Purcell, who is 62 years old and disabled, with the butt of his gun, slammed him on the ground, pulled his arm so hard that it snapped and punched him in the face "with so much force that it knocked Raymond's acrylic partial dentures out of his mouth," the lawsuit states.

When Randall Purcell attempted to help his brother, Pohorence knocked him down and put his foot on his face, leaving a cut near his eye.


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The officers said in the case that they knew Raymond Purcell had guns and that they felt threatened with the "weapons all over the wall," the deposition says, according to the Miami Herald.

The weapons were reported to be Star Trek memorabilia. Raymond Purcell also had a legal concealed firearms permit.

The brothers are suing for $75,000 for the April 2017 incident.

Pohorence has been with the force for four years and has been reviewed by the department's internal affairs unit for use of force 79 times.

The department conducted an investigation and found both officers not guilty in 2019 but never submitted the findings to the Citizens' Police Review Board.

Pohorence is now on unpaid administrative leave.

The Hill has reached out to Fort Lauderdale police for comment.

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