Broward County

Did a deputy steal $9,000 from a poker player? Petition demands to see the video


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The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has been petitioned by civil rights advocates to release a video that they say shows a deputy stealing from a professional poker player’s bag.

The Florida Civil Rights Coalition and the poker player filed the petition for the release of surveillance video in Broward County Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon. BSO had refused to release the video after public records requests from the group, the petition claims.

The video in question was recorded at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in late 2018, according to the petition.

It shows Deputy Michael Spencer finding South Florida-based poker player Aaron Mermelstein’s unattended bag at a cellphone charging station. Spencer looked inside the bag, but didn’t turn on his body camera or alert dispatch, the petition said.

Instead, he went inside a public restroom, off camera and out of sight, with the backpack. After several minutes, he left the bathroom and eventually reported the bag missing and turned on his body camera.

When Mermelstein later got his bag, he discovered that about $9,000 had been stolen from it, the petition said.

BSO did not immediately respond when called and emailed for comment.

According to the civil rights coalition, Spencer violated several BSO policies.

BSO’s Division of Internal Affairs determined that no misconduct issues were found, the petition said.

A statement from the civil rights coalition said there have been more than 66 official probes of criminal misconduct into the Broward Sheriff’s Office since 2012.