Kitzie Nicanor remembers virtually nothing about the dark morning a Miami Beach cop smashed into her while zooming down the South Beach sand in a police all-terrain vehicle.
But Nicanor told jurors Tuesday that the pain of the crash lingers every day. A metal plate is embedded in one leg, which is shorter than the other, making simple walking a massive effort.
She showed jurors where the scar on her belly is from one of her many surgeries. Nicanor, who can no longer work, suffered brain trauma that has left her a shell of her former self.
“Let’s just say I’m not a people person anymore,” Nicanor, 32, told jurors. “Anything brings me to the edge and I get emotional.”
Nicanor’s testimony Tuesday capped the state’s main case against Derick Kuilan, the former Miami Beach police officer accused of driving drunk while running over Nicanor and a friend in July 2011.
In a case that led to headlines around the nation and embarrassed the Miami Beach Police Department, Kuilan — on duty and in uniform — offered a joyride to a woman celebrating her bachelorette party at the Clevelander hotel bar. During the jaunt across the sand, he ran over Nicanor and Luis Almonte, friends who had walked to the water’s edge to watch the sunrise.
Evan Hoffman, Kuilan’s attorney, is challenging the results of a toxicology test that showed the officer was legally intoxicated five hours after the crash. After prosecutors rested their case Tuesday afternoon, the defense will begin calling witnesses Wednesday.
Almonte and Nicanor also are suing Kuilan personally. Hoffman’s defense strategy is to argue that that is where the case belongs — in civil court as a negligence case, not as a criminal prosecution.
Nicanor’s testimony Wednesday was brief. At the time of the crash, she lived in Seattle and was in town for a wedding. She recalled driving to South Beach, along with her aunt, to meet Almonte and another man at a Latin restaurant and bar.
They drove and parked near the beach, Nicanor told Miami-Dade prosecutor David I. Gilbert.
“I don’t remember anything after that,” Nicanor said.
She woke up in a hospital. Today, the brain injury has left her visibly slower. At one point, during cross-examination, Nicanor drew a blank when asked whether she was suing Kuilan.
Before the crash, she and Almonte got know each other through the Internet and would spend hours talking on the phone before they finally met in person that fateful night. Those long conversations are no more, Almonte testified earlier this week.
“The way she speaks, she sounds different, like slow,” Almonte said. “Her conversation skills aren’t the same.”