Link to original Sun-Sentinel story with video: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-cabbie-charges-dropped-folo-20150611-story.html
State drops charge, cabbie accused of fatal Dania Beach hit-run looks to rebuild his life
On May 1, a little more than two months after the Supreme Court ruling, prosecutors in Palm Beach County also dropped the charges against Dorsett.
Although assigned to the Yellow Cab, a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria, and working the overnight shift when Williams was run over, Brandt said he has no memory of hitting anyone or anything that night.
"Somebody hit and killed Mr. Williams," said Brandt, 60. "But I know I didn't do it."
Broward Sheriff's Office traffic homicide investigators were led to Brandt's cab, No. 333, by surveillance videos that show a similar vehicle driving through the intersection of South Federal Highway and Southwest 12th Street at the time Williams was hit.
In examining the taxi, investigators found the vehicle did not appear to have damage consistent with a crash, and a motion-sensitive video camera on board was not activated.
But detectives did find human tissue and Williams' DNA on the undercarriage of the taxi, as well as a paint chip on Williams' chest they said matched paint missing from the vehicle's bumper.
"It should be noted," wrote Traffic Homicide Detective Carlos DeJesus in his investigative report, "that the cause of the crash was that Bernard Williams, who for reasons undetermined was in the roadway at a time and place when a reasonably minded person would not expect to encounter a pedestrian."
A possible explanation for why Williams was there, DeJesus wrote, was his blood alcohol level of 0.22.
Nonetheless, DeJesus concluded, "Based on the nature, severity and physical location of the crash, it is this investigator's opinion that Brandt did know or should have known that the incident would have or could have caused injury or death to a person."
On Oct. 23, 2013, Brandt was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving a death.
When Williams was killed, Brandt had been working as a cab driver for five weeks. "He is a local Joe, an average person who was no match for the criminal justice system," said Malove, hired to defend Brandt by the Chabad of South Broward, where Brandt is a congregant. "They were trying to shoehorn an innocent guy into a conviction."
The physical evidence detectives say links Brandt's cab to the crime is not there, Malove said. The paint chip found on the victim's chest during the autopsy does not match the pattern of paint flaked off of the bumper, and has on it a primer which the taxi's paint does not.
He dismissed the DNA found underneath the taxi as "so minuscule that anybody who drove through that area after the accident had taken place could have easily gotten splash-off."
El Rashidy said the state's case was solid, right up until the Supreme Court ruling three months ago. He said the paint chip found on Williams' body fits like a jigsaw puzzle piece into a patch of missing paint on the taxi's bumper.
As for the presence or not of primer, "That's a silly argument, to say the least," said El Rashidy.
El Rashidy also disputed Malove's characterization of the DNA evidence as "minuscule."
"There was a lot of DNA," El Rashidy said. "That argument is very creative, but it's not based on logic."
As for the lack of damage to the cab, or the failure of the motion sensing camera to be activated, "There are definitely factual issues the state would have had to overcome at trial, like any case," El Rashidy said.
"However, I think we had a lot more things pointing to fact that Michael Brandt was responsible for this crime than that he wasn't."
Malove said he can't explain why detectives did not hunt for other vehicles that might have driven through the intersection that morning so they could be inspected for damage more consistent with running over a man in the street.
In an email he later added, "I believe that if there was any evidence whatsoever to prove that Mr. Brandt knew or should have known that he had struck Mr. Williams, the state wouldn't have dropped the case."
According to a spokeswoman for the BSO traffic homicide detectives who investigated, the case is closed.
Under indictment for a year and a half, Brandt was suspended from his cab driver's job. He is now unemployed and flirting with homelessness.
"This cab situation has thrown a wrench into my life," Brandt said. He has been occasionally recognized by those who saw his mug shot on television or in the press. "People would say, 'Hey, you're the guy who killed somebody,"' Brandt said. "And that wasn't easy."
Nor has Williams' death or its aftermath been easy for the family of Bernard Williams, relatives said.
"We were heartbroken when we found out the case was being dropped," said Fort Lauderdale resident Florice White, 66, one of Williams' seven siblings. "He was my brother. We all loved him. If somebody would have stopped, maybe it could have saved his life.
"This is a tragedy to us."
State drops charge, cabbie accused of fatal Dania Beach hit-run looks to rebuild his life.