Not guilty so say the jury in the State of Florida versus Brian Swadkins.
Following five hours of deliberation over two days, a jury Thursday afternoon found Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy Brian Swadkins not guilty of filing a false report.
Swadkins, 39, faced up to a year in jail had he been convicted of the misdemeanor offense against him.
The charge against Swadkins involved the February, 2010 arrest of 7-Eleven convenience store customer, Troy Baldeo. According to reports, Baldeo was at the Tamarac convenience store and became uncooperative when approached by Broward Sheriff's deputy David Wimberley.
In two separate reports, Wimberley accused the suspect of "boisterous" behavior and alleged that Baldeo came at him with "clenched fists" while being subdued by Swadkins and himself.
Swadkins' official report also alleged that Baldeo had clenched fists when advancing toward Wimberley.
Store surveillance cameras recording the incident from three different angles appeared to provide a different point of view with Baldeo not acting erratically or clenching his fists prior to arrest.
Swadkins lawyer - Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich - argued that although the convenience store had several cameras, none of them recorded the alleged incident from Swadkins' point of view.
Although mistaken about what he saw, Swadkins believed it at the time of the incident and acted appropriately given his understanding of the circumstances, Schwartzreich successfully argued before a Broward County jury.
“We are pleased with the verdict,” stated Schwartzreich. “Not only did we prove Swadkins was not guilty, but we proved him innocent.”
Assistant State Attorney Adriana Alcalde-Padron had argued to the jury that Swadkins' use of the term “clenched fists” was so strikingly similar to language from Wimberley’s report that it was not a coincidence but a deliberate falsehood that deprived Baldeo of his liberty.
Following his arrest, charges against Baldeo were dismissed by Broward prosecutors. Wimberley was convicted in May of two counts of falsifying reports and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
“It’s a great day when justice prevails,” concluded Schwartzreich’s co-counsel, Marla Chicotsky. “The truth will always set you free.”