Steven Pohorence was one of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department officers present during a protest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States on March 31, 2020. The white police officer was caught on tape shoving one of the protesters and was suspended with pay on June 1, 2020.
A peaceful demonstration attended by about 1,000 people, it was one of the Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. following the death of African-American security guard George Floyd. The videographer who recorded the incident told CNN that some of the protesters got on their knees and started chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Pohorence approached the protesters and told them to back up. While walking back toward the Broward County Public Library and away from the crowd, he pushed one of the kneeling protesters, an African-American female teenager, toward the pavement.
“That officer has been removed from any contact with the public,” Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione told Local 10, referring to Pohorence. “He is relieved of duty while this matter is investigated.”
Internal Affairs investigators revealed that there have been at least 51 incidents in which Pohorence has drawn his gun. However, there were “no policy violations found,” Miami Herald quoted Fort Lauderdale’s Fraternal Order of Police president Shane Calvey as saying.
Born in 1991, Pohorence has roots in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Here are 13 more facts about the Fort Lauderdale police officer:
- In October 2016, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department hired him as a police officer.
- While working for the Florida Highway Patrol for about four years, he never fired his weapon or never violated any department policies.
- Since joining the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, he has been involved in at least 14 violent arrests and brawls that ended with him or other officers either punching or using stun guns on people who resisted.
- He used force 79 times in approximately three and a half years and drew his service weapon on mothers with children in their vehicles who were later released without charges on at least two occasions.
- The Internal Affairs found him not guilty when one person whom he arrested accused him of racially profiling and another accused him of false arrest and unnecessary use of force.
- In 2017, he and another officer were investigated for sexually assaulting a suspect who claimed the officers penetrated his anus but he was cleared after witness accounts indicated the suspect fabricated the story and no video of the incident could be retrieved.
- He is routinely heard over the police radio channel conducting proactive traffic stops along with stops of suspicious subjects according to his performance review from September 2018.
- On April 5, 2019, he saved a disturbed naked woman from jumping off an I-95 overpass and received a recommendation from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for it.
- In July 2019, he was one of the four officers commended for using CPR and a tourniquet to save the lives of two people involved in a crash on the Oakland Park exit of I-95.
- In October 2019, he was sent for mandatory training to improve communication skills.
- In January 2020, he received a recommendation for apprehending a man wanted for second-degree murder, who had barricaded himself inside a home, before SWAT arrived.
- In January 2020, he drew his weapon on suspects four times in one week, three of which were minor violations or misunderstandings. In one instance, he pulled his gun during a traffic stop of what he believed was a stolen vehicle but it turned out that the person driving the car bought a tag from someone because his license had been suspended and he needed to get to work.
- On January 19, 2020, he and another officer drew their weapons after they observed a stolen vehicle, which turned out to be an overdue rental car occupied by a homeless woman.