Winston Dudley of Fort Lauderdale, Miami won a settlement in a civil lawsuit that accused Fort Lauderdale officer Daniel R. Gowans of arresting him on false charges in 2010, sources say. Dudley, who was 50 at the time of the incident, had recorded Gowans arresting him in his backyard on charges that would later be contradicted by video evidence. It is not clear whether there were any other victims of similar police misconduct, nor is it known whether any of these parties will follow suit with their own lawsuits.
According to Gowans arrest report, police received a complaint of a noise disturbance at Dudley’s residence on the 1300 block of Northwest 12th Street. When Gowans responded to the scene, sources say, he said he discovered Dudley in his backyard, blaring loud music from within his home. When he asked Dudley for his identification and requested that he turned off the music, he purportedly refused.
“Dudley laughed and stated ‘I don’t have to, get lost,'” Gowans wrote in his report. He then repeated his request for the identification and asked once more that he shut off the music. However, Gowans said that Dudley laughed again and began to drink his beer. At that point, the officer said he took Dudley by his left arm and placed his hands behind his back. Dudley then pulled away from Gowans and started to walk into his home, the officer claimed. “Dudley attempted to pull away and stated ‘Get out of here, it’s my house.'”
Dudley was arrested by Gowans and charged with misdemeanor disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest without violence. He was granted bond and was released the day after his incarceration. Reports say that video captured by a surveillance camera located at Dudley’s residence told a story that contradicted the charges. After his release, Dudley contacted his lawyer and informed him of the false charges and the video evidence he had.
Reports say the video shows that just moments after Gowans arrived in Dudley’s backyard, Dudley went inside and either lowered or turned off the loud music. When he returned, he seated himself on his lounger. Sources say the video showed that there was an unidentifiable container in Dudley hand, though he never drank from it during the video. The video reportedly shows Dudley being arrested only two minutes after Gowans arrived on the scene.
The civil lawsuit resulted in a $30,000 settlement last month, reports say. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission voted to approve the settlement in a 5 to 0 vote in order to avoid further litigation costs. Dudley told reporters that he accepted the settlement so that he could put the event behind him and move on with his life. According to Dudley’s attorney, he considers Dudley very fortunate to have caught the arrest on videotape. “If [Dudley] didn’t have the video, nobody would have believed him,” the lawyer told reporters. It is unclear whether Gowans will face legal charges regarding Dudley’s claims.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office special prosecution unit told reporters that they were not informed of the case until recently. However, they say that they plan to review it now that it has been brought to their attention.