A Florida judge reacted angrily when a defense attorney suggested his client fled police because he feared officers would shoot him because he’s black.
Police arrested 26-year-old Stephen Hall Clarke early Monday after a brief pursuit that began when a bullet was fired at a Fort Lauderdale police officer’s unmarked patrol car and grazed the plainclothes officer’s head, reported the Sun Sentinel.
The officer, who was not badly injured, had been following a suspicious vehicle prior to the shooting, and police chased several suspects that scattered after the gunshot was fired.
Clarke was found hiding under a dock and wearing an empty holster when police arrested him, and his attorney argued he had a reasonable excuse for running.
“Your honor, in light of what’s happening in this country with unarmed black men being killed by police, him running from shots being fired is a very reasonable response,” said public defender Dale Miller.
Broward County Judge John “Jay” Hurley strongly disagreed.
“Don’t give me that,” Hurley said. “That is so off base.”
“We’ve got a young man — I don’t care what color he is — he’s in a neighborhood he doesn’t live in at 1:41 in the morning, hiding under somebody’s dock in the water with a holster on after a police officer had a shot taken at him,” Hurley said.
“Don’t hand me this, ‘running from police brutality,'” the judge continued. “That is not appropriate in this case. I’m not going to let you poison this case with bringing in something that has nothing to do with it.”
Three other suspects have been arrested in the case on burglary and other charges, but police have not said who they believe shot at the unmarked cruiser.
The judge took a brief recess after his outburst and apologized to the attorney when he returned.
“I got a little worked up there, but I just want to be clear that we stick to the facts of the case and we don’t go off on tangents,” Hurley said.
Hurley has previously made news for admonishing a suspect who yawned while standing before him and saying, “I don’t care, man,” and another suspect who called him a “cock.”
Watch this video report posted online by CBS Miami: