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Fla. Deputy Arrested Over Road Rage Incident

Feb. 01--Paul Pletcher, a Broward Sheriff's deputy accused of stealing a woman's cellphone during an alleged road rage incident in May, turned himself in to authorities at the Broward Main Jail on Monday morning. 

Pletcher, 37, has been charged with four criminal counts: burglary, battery, criminal mischief and petty theft.

"We are going to enter a plea of not guilty and we're going to investigate these allegations and we're going to fight them," said Alberto Milian, Pletcher's attorney.

Pletcher, a seven-year veteran assigned to the Sheriff's Pompano Beach district, has been under investigation for months after a woman called 911 to say a deputy had pulled her over, screamed profanity and racial slurs, and stole her cellphone.

Neyda Osorio, 38, told Plantation police she was in her truck waiting at a light on Broward Boulevard near State Road 7 on May 23 when her friend noticed a deputy yelling at them.

Pletcher was off-duty and out of uniform at the time, but armed and driving his patrol car.

Osorio told police the deputy gave her the middle finger, so she gave him one too. Pletcher turned on his flashing lights and pulled her over.

That's when Osorio told her friend to videotape the incident on her cellphone.

When Pletcher realized he was being recorded, he demanded the phone, then took it by force when she refused to turn it over, Osorio told police. The deputy also drove off with her driver's license, she said.

Pletcher was placed on paid leave the day after the May 23 incident. On Monday, he was suspended without pay, Broward Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Leljedal said.

Ed McGee, Osorio's attorney, said he plans to file a lawsuit against Pletcher and the Broward Sheriff's Office for false arrest and violating his client's civil rights.

"Even though she was not booked into a jail, when he used his police lights to stop her, that was an arrest under the law," McGee said.

"When you don't have the lights and the gun belt, it's road rage," he said. "When you add the lights and gun belt, it's an abuse of power. Either way, she didn't do anything to deserve it."

Osorio now feels fear any time she sees a police car, McGee said.

"Her dilemma is, the very people we are taught to go to when we're in need are the ones she's most afraid of. She came forward because she didn't want this to happen to anybody else."

Pletcher's accuser says he grabbed her phone, then told her to pull into a bank parking lot, police records show. As she pulled in, she saw him driving off with her phone and ID.

Plantation officers found the phone in two pieces near the spot where Pletcher pulled Osorio over.

The video, released Monday by the Plantation Police Department, lasts 22 seconds.

In the recording, Pletcher orders Osorio nine times to turn over her cellphone.

Copyright 2012 - Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.