$1M Lawsuit Accuses Three Davie Cops of Brutality

Battery and resisting arrest charges against Matthew Lawson were deemed unlawful by the state

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    TK
    Courtesy Gary Kollin, P.A.
    An image of then 18-year-old Matthew Lawson, taken the day after his arrest.

    A Pembroke Pines man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Davie and three of its police officers, accusing them of police brutality during a 2009 arrest deemed unlawful by the state.

    An attorney for Matthew Lawson, 20, filed the $1 million suit on Tuesday, accusing officers Curtis Schock, Steve Ricker and Paul Vardakis of shocking Lawson with a Taser, sending a K-9 to attack and bite him, and punching and kicking his body, causing him to lose a tooth.

    Lawson was initally charged with battery on an officer and resisting arrest with violence after the officers questioned him while he walked down the street and he did not stop.

    But the Broward State Attorney's office dismissed the charges, ruling that a person "cannot resist with violence an unlawful arrest" and there was "no reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity on the part of the defendant to justify a stop and detention of the defendant."

    According to the lawsuit, officers reported they attempted to stop Lawson because he appeared to have dilated pupils and was sweating and swaying as if under the influence of drugs.

    In a five-page letter to the town of Davie, attorney Gary Kollin argued that the officers' "absurd" reports were contradicted by two eye witnesses, and questionable due to dark conditions on the sidewalk-less street. He wrote that their descriptions of Lawson's alleged resistance against three officers and the K-9 would have required "superhuman" strength unlikely for the 5' 11", 200-pound 18-year-old high school student.

    Kollin also said that records from Westside Regional Hospital and from a trained health professional at the jail do not corroborate or make mention of any intoxication or withdrawal symptoms, nor note any of the physical symptoms the arresting officers are reported to have observed.

    Kollin alerted the Town of Davie of his client's intent to sue six months in advance with the letter, pursuant to state law. The town declined to make a settlement offer.

    According to Davie Police Department policy, the accused officers are not permitted to comment on pending litigation, and a spokesperson for the Town of Davie was not immediately available.

    The case is set for trial in April of next year.

    Matthew Lawson's attorney says this image, taken two days after his arrest, show injuries to Lawson's thigh from a Davie PD K-9.