Indialantic mayor no longer faces charges for hitting man with rake during Hurricane Ian cleanup

David Berkman, 59, arrested in September 2022

Welcome to Brevard County Sign. (Wikimedia Commons)

INDIALANTIC, Fla. – The mayor of Indialantic is no longer facing charges after he was accused of using a rake to hit a man in the face while participating in a park cleanup for Hurricane Ian, according to a letter issued by the 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office.

David Berkman, 59, was arrested on Sept. 30 and faced a misdemeanor battery charge.

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The 18th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office issued a letter on Nov. 18 showing the state cannot successfully prosecute the case.

“While the conduct may be unwanted and some language is coarse, the communications focus on the suspect’s feelings of the complainant’s performance as a government official. Such conduct could be said to serve a legitimate purpose even if it is handled through harsh words,” the letter read.

State Attorney Phil Archer also said in the letter there was no way to prove “substantial emotional distress” since a public official is subject to the dissatisfaction of citizens.

State Attorney’s Office also issued two letters to both Berkman and the victim, detailing that it would not be pursuing charges.

“We wish to assure you that our decision was made after careful consideration of your affidavit together with all related information from the law enforcement agency involved. Please understand that we have a professional and ethical responsibility to prosecute only those cases which have sufficient evidence and can be proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Unfortunately, in your case, we are unable to do this,” the letter shows.

Todd Brown, a spokesman with the State Attorney’s Office in Brevard County, also said the decision came from its partner office in Seminole County and released a statement Friday explaining why the case was sent there.

According to the probable cause affidavit released earlier this year, Berkman was helping to clear Orlando Park in Indialantic when the victim began recording him on his cellphone. The victim said he began recording the mayor after Berkman made several comments about “kicking his ass.”

The affidavit said Berkman used a rake to hit the victim’s phone and face.

It’s not known what led to the alleged outburst.

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About the Authors:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.