In Florida, two Coral Springs police officers — Nicole Stasnek and Derek Fernandes — have been accused of false statements against a woman after an audio recording surfaced contradicting their claims about a roadside arrest of Susan Mait, 60.
The officers arrested Mait after she allegedly assaulted Stasnek after becoming abusive in a roadside encounter.
It began when Fernandes asked Mait about her disabled car. The officers say that Mait told Fernandes that she was on Xanax, and that she couldn’t move the car out of traffic. Fernandes told Mait to call for a tow with GEICO roadside assistance. Stasnek says that Mait refused to give her Mait’s license. This was stated in both a sworn deposition and in her police report. She says that she warned Mait that she “would be disobeying my lawful command and would be arrested for resisting my lawful command.” Stasnek says that she blocked the officer with her hand and resisted the officers as they pulled her from the car — pushing or shoving Stasnek. Stasnek denied in sworn statements that she ever cursed at Mait or acted in anything but a professional way. Mait insisted that Stasnek cursed and was abusive toward her. She denied resisting arrest.
Mait was charged with felony obstruction and DUI — for the Xanax. She spent the night in jail and the DUI charge was dropped after drug testing. But the officers continued to maintain the obstruction allegation (later reduced to resisting arrest).
Then, after sworn statements from the officers, a tape surfaced from that call to GEICO. Turns out that in the confrontation, Mait dropped her phone on the floor and the tape of the call continued to roll. The tape records Stasnek cursing out Mait and arresting her with no warning. Worse yet, it shows both officers discussing the filing of false statements.
The 17-minute recording includes this exchange after she is asked for her license:
Mait: “Did you not see me on the phone?”
Stasnek: “Did you not see this uniform I have on? Don’t give me any s— right now. Give me your f—ing driver’s license.”
Both officers also said under oath that they warned Mait that she was disobeying a lawful command — twice. However, there is no such warning on the recording. What is on the recording is the sound of Mait sobbing and this exchange:
Fernandes: “I didn’t hear anything you said. I was in the back of the car.”
Stasnek: “I did drop the F-bomb.”
Fernandes, laughing: “I didn’t hear that. In my [internal affairs] statement, I’ll say I didn’t hear that. … Don’t worry, I will put everything I heard beforehand.”
Once again, Mait would have had little chance in this case absent the recording from her phone — another example of the importance of citizens being able to record officers in public.
Not only does the recording destroy the basis for the charges against Mait, it now constitutes a case of perjury, false arrest and a host of other criminal and civil violations. It is also a chilling example of how citizens have little recourse in the face to two officers with coordinated statements. We have previously seen such cases of coordination or falsity in police statements refuting by tapes (here and here and here and here).
Source: Miami Herald as first seen on Reddit.