01/20/2004

Charges Dropped After Perjury Against 4 Miami Officers

The Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) -- In a startling turnaround, prosecutors acknowledged presenting perjured testimony and dropped charges Tuesday in the retrial of four Miami police officers accused of beating a handcuffed man.

The government's opening witness admitted lying on the stand for the alleged victim, Alexander Anazco.

Prosecutor Curtis Miner announced the decision as the third day of trial began. Prosecutors had no comment outside court.

"It's an embarrassment but their own fault," defense attorney Richard Sharpstein said. "They threw in the towel."

In opening statements, prosecutor Jacqueline Becerra said police struck a defenseless Anazco on the head and shoulders with a flashlight and a walkie-talkie and burned him with a cigarette after his 1997 arrest.

Brake shop manager Armando Rodriguez offered an alibi for Anazco for a rock-throwing incident that allegedly triggered the beating. But it turned out Rodriguez was a longtime friend and visited Anazco in jail.

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