Hollywood Police Officer Not Guilty in Battery Case

September 3, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

A former Hollywood police officer received a verdict of not guilty on Thursday regarding a battery charge from 2019. The officer, Matthew Joseph Barbieri, was placed on administrative leave without pay after he became rough with a suspect in a drug arrest.

We will cover the details of the incident, as well as the trial that just ended with Barbieri walking away free.

What was the Incident?

In August 2019, Hollywood police officers responded to a call about a man’s son who was high on heroin and acting erratically. The officers showed up and handcuffed Raymond Schachner, and said they were going to search the home for any illegal substances.

Schachner began to object to the officers searching the home. This resulted in one officer, Matthew Barbieri, 34, getting angry with the suspect. A home surveillance video shows Barbieri slap Schachner two times and grab him by the throat.

“Do I have permission now?” You can hear Barbieri asking the suspect with his hands around his throat. The video also shows the officer telling his colleague that they would have to say that the suspect was kicking.

Barbieri was suspended from his position and charged with a misdemeanor battery charge for striking a suspect that was handcuffed.  

Now the trial has just taken place, in which Barbieri was given a not-guilty verdict. Local news stations captured the defendant after the verdict was announced, in which he broke down in tears. It only took a few hours for the jury to reach their verdict.

The prosecution tried to claim that there were inaccuracies in the report Barbieri submitted and that his actions showed he took the situation way too far.

“What we have here is a situation of a cop using his power, taking advantage of an individual who is not likeable, who’s not a threat and who deserved better simply because he is a human being,” prosecutor Kayla Bramnick said in her argument. “Every human being deserves the same dignities and not to be assaulted, controlled in his own home because he is high.”

However, the defense team claimed that the suspect came at Barbieri with one of his syringes and that the prosecution couldn’t make up their mind on what happened.

“Suddenly [it] went from two slaps to a punch and a slap, to a punch and two slaps, to then three slaps until the victim finally, in exasperation at the end of my cross-examination says, ‘OK, I’ll stick with three,’” defense attorney David Bogenschutz argued. “Then had the prosecutor cross-examine the defendant suggesting it was two punches, which is absolutely not accurate.”

In addition, the defense brought up Schachner’s lengthy criminal history, and that he pleaded guilty to the four charges that he received on the day of the incident.

Schachner took the stand and told the jury, “when I got hit across the face, I felt it all the way into my ear canal and on the bottom of my jaw.”

Assistant State Attorney Lindsay Carrier claimed that Schachner is the “kind of person Matthew Barbieri preys upon. Imagine if we didn’t have a video in this case. Could we file charges?”

After less than three hours, the jury agreed with the defense and declared that Barbieri was not guilty. Now his attorney says that he should be reimbursed for the financial burden of being suspended from his job.

Barbieri was questioned about whether he wanted his job back, to which he responded, “no comment.”

“His job? That’s a question he’s going to have to wrestle with, with the City of Hollywood,” defense attorney Bogenschutz said. “I think a not guilty verdict and acquittal on the actual charge, because he was suspended because of that, it seems to make it favorable to him to do that, but that’s something between him and the city.”

If he had been found guilty, Barbieri could have faced up to a year in jail.

Battery Charges in Florida

The state of Florida does not take battery charges lightly. Florida Statute 784.03 defines battery as when an individual intentionally puts their hands on someone against his or her will, or purposefully causes harm to another person. For a first-time offense, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has any prior convictions, the charge is then considered a third-degree felony.

Another way that the charge can be upgraded is if there was a weapon involved. This would be considered aggravated battery, or if the violent encounter results in severe bodily harm or permanent disfigurement. Aggravated battery is considered a second-degree felony.

Dealing with the Police in an Escalated Situation

It can be extremely stressful to deal with the police, especially when they have accused you of a crime. If things get heated or turn violent, it is important to fully understand your rights. It is important to try and remain calm and follow the directions they give you. However, if there is an escalation, it’s important to remember that the escalation falls on the responsibility of the officer.

The following is a list of your rights when dealing with the police:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to deny consent to search
  • The right to an attorney

To find out what to do if your rights have been violated, read our informative page here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, make it your top priority to seek out a skilled defense attorney. A guilty conviction of a battery charge can lead to harsh consequences such as expensive fines, jail time, and making it difficult to find a job or place to live. There is also the stigma of having a violent crime on your criminal record. Working with an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney to build a strong defense for your case is the best way to earn your freedom. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients across the state for various criminal charges. Call today for a free consultation regarding your case at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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