Miami Resident Convicted for Assault on a Federal Law Enforcement Officer
After a week-long trial, a federal jury convicted a trucker and Miami, Florida resident of assault upon a federal law enforcement officer. Evidence presented at trial showed that the defendant, after being asked to leave the Claude Pepper Federal Building in downtown Miami, punched a security officer in the face.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Curtis Huston, Threat Management Branch Chief, Federal Protective Service (FPS), made the announcement.
According to the evidence presented at trial, on February 20, 2014, Lark Suddith, 67, who was in the security line in the lobby of the Claude Pepper Federal Building, began complaining about the wait time so loudly and inappropriately that he created a disturbance. A security officer asked Suddith multiple times to calm down and to stop yelling and cursing, but Suddith refused. Over the next several minutes, Suddith continued to disrupt business in the building and create a security concern, and ignored further warnings from the security officer to cease or face removal from the building. Finally, the security officer asked Suddith to leave the building and, when Suddith refused, the security officer had to use physical force to remove Suddith, who was twice the officer’s size. The security officer put his hands on Suddith’s shoulder and back and walked him out of the building. While the security officer was walking Suddith through the doors of the building, Suddith turned and punched the security officer in the face.
At trial, the security officer testified about how the incident occurred, and the jury watched the building security video, which captured the entire incident. In addition, a Special Agent with the FPS testified about how the security officer’s use of force to remove Suddith was appropriate, as Suddith’s defense at trial was that the security officer used excessive force such that he was justified in punching the officer in the face. Evidence at trial further revealed that this was not the first incident of violence involving the defendant, as he was also convicted by a jury of misdemeanor battery in 2012.
At sentencing, Suddith faces up to 33 months in prison for assault. Suddith is scheduled to be sentenced on April 6, 2015, at 3:00 p.m., before U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of FPS. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa Snyder.