Why didn’t anybody tell me all I needed to do was donate toys to charity?

Carlos Miller
Daniel Zuniga, the promising young prosecutor who was assigned to my case, was fired this week from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office for participating in a “toys for case dismissal” agreement with Miami-Dade County Judge Karen Mills Francis – the judge presiding over my case.

Unfortunately, I was never informed of this philantropic set-up, for I would have gladly donated toys to charity in exchange for my case being dismissed.

But now that The Miami Herald broke the story, the odds are slim that I will be given the same opportunity as the countless others who had their criminal charges dropped after donating toys to Safe Space, which is Judge Mills Francis’ favorite charity. It is not clear on whether or not these donations were tax-deductible.

Meanwhile, I’ve been running up thousands of dollars in legal bills with a lawyer who kept telling me that Zuniga is a hard-ass prosecutor who refuses to budge on my case.

According to my attorney, Zuniga offered a deal in which he would drop most of the charges if only I plead guilty to one of the charges (it may have been the obstructing traffic charge or perhaps the disobeying a police officer charge). Or maybe it was a deal where I enter some type of program where I’m not really “guilty” but I’m not really “innocent”. Hell, it might have even been a deal where I donate toys to a charity, but I know it wasn’t in exchange for the dismissal of my case.

The truth is, I don’t even remember the details because I rejected them outright. I am basically asking them to drop my entire case, so anything else is not even absorbed. I didn’t come this far to cop a plea deal. For that, I might as well have accepted “time served” the morning I was released from jail.

If I didn’t believe I was completely innocent of all the charges against me, then I wouldn’t be raising so much hell about it.

Besides, police have done nothing but contradict themselves in this case, starting from the moment they wrote the arrest report in which they stated that I was standing in the middle of the street when they first spotted me, to them escorting me to the middle of the street a few moments later (not even these cops were that dumb to escort me to the middle of busy Biscayne Blvd in the name of safety).

The truth is, I was standing in the construction zone on the west side of the road when they first spotted me, and then I was escorted across the street to the east sidewalk after they spotted me. And once on the other side of the street, I was ordered to continue walking north on the sidewalk, which was when I took the picture in the header of this blog.

I was not interfering with the investigation for the investigation was already complete, as one officer admitted in a deposition. This would also explain why all five cops abandoned the person they were dealing to come after me.

I was not obstructing traffic for I was standing in a non-traffic zone. And I was not refusing a police order for these orders were unlawful.

I, as a citizen, had every right to observe the police in their line of duty. I had every right to photograph the police in their line of duty. And I had every right to continue standing on the sidewalk (after they had escorted me there) without having to “keep moving” as they continually ordered. This is not Cuba.

Numerous court cases have proven that these actions are protected under the First Amendment, which is why I couldn’t understand Zuniga offering these half-ass plea deals. Perhaps he missed that day in his Constitutional Law class. He obviously missed some fundamental training for the guy lasted only five months in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office (and he has yet to update his LinkedIn profile, by the way).

And speaking of lack of training, the police in this case were completely unprofessional as they barked out unlawful orders; tackling me to the sidewalk and pounding my head into the pavement, destroying a camera flash, damaging a camera lens and threatening to tase me before sending me to the county jail for 16 hours.

So there is no way I am going to accept a plea deal unless it is the dismissal of my entire case. I’ll take my chances with a jury.

And I’ll take comfort in the fact that the judge presiding over my case has a charitable heart.273

Carlos Miller
Daniel Zuniga, the promising young prosecutor who was assigned to my case, was fired this week from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office for participating in a “toys for case dismissal” agreement with Miami-Dade County Judge Karen Mills Francis – the judge presiding over my case.

Unfortunately, I was never informed of this philantropic set-up, for I would have gladly donated toys to charity in exchange for my case being dismissed.

But now that The Miami Herald broke the story, the odds are slim that I will be given the same opportunity as the countless others who had their criminal charges dropped after donating toys to Safe Space, which is Judge Mills Francis’ favorite charity. It is not clear on whether or not these donations were tax-deductible.

Meanwhile, I’ve been running up thousands of dollars in legal bills with a lawyer who kept telling me that Zuniga is a hard-ass prosecutor who refuses to budge on my case.

According to my attorney, Zuniga offered a deal in which he would drop most of the charges if only I plead guilty to one of the charges (it may have been the obstructing traffic charge or perhaps the disobeying a police officer charge). Or maybe it was a deal where I enter some type of program where I’m not really “guilty” but I’m not really “innocent”. Hell, it might have even been a deal where I donate toys to a charity, but I know it wasn’t in exchange for the dismissal of my case.

The truth is, I don’t even remember the details because I rejected them outright. I am basically asking them to drop my entire case, so anything else is not even absorbed. I didn’t come this far to cop a plea deal. For that, I might as well have accepted “time served” the morning I was released from jail.

If I didn’t believe I was completely innocent of all the charges against me, then I wouldn’t be raising so much hell about it.

Besides, police have done nothing but contradict themselves in this case, starting from the moment they wrote the arrest report in which they stated that I was standing in the middle of the street when they first spotted me, to them escorting me to the middle of the street a few moments later (not even these cops were that dumb to escort me to the middle of busy Biscayne Blvd in the name of safety).

The truth is, I was standing in the construction zone on the west side of the road when they first spotted me, and then I was escorted across the street to the east sidewalk after they spotted me. And once on the other side of the street, I was ordered to continue walking north on the sidewalk, which was when I took the picture in the header of this blog.

I was not interfering with the investigation for the investigation was already complete, as one officer admitted in a deposition. This would also explain why all five cops abandoned the person they were dealing to come after me.

I was not obstructing traffic for I was standing in a non-traffic zone. And I was not refusing a police order for these orders were unlawful.

I, as a citizen, had every right to observe the police in their line of duty. I had every right to photograph the police in their line of duty. And I had every right to continue standing on the sidewalk (after they had escorted me there) without having to “keep moving” as they continually ordered. This is not Cuba.

Numerous court cases have proven that these actions are protected under the First Amendment, which is why I couldn’t understand Zuniga offering these half-ass plea deals. Perhaps he missed that day in his Constitutional Law class. He obviously missed some fundamental training for the guy lasted only five months in the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office (and he has yet to update his LinkedIn profile, by the way).

And speaking of lack of training, the police in this case were completely unprofessional as they barked out unlawful orders; tackling me to the sidewalk and pounding my head into the pavement, destroying a camera flash, damaging a camera lens and threatening to tase me before sending me to the county jail for 16 hours.

So there is no way I am going to accept a plea deal unless it is the dismissal of my entire case. I’ll take my chances with a jury.

And I’ll take comfort in the fact that the judge presiding over my case has a charitable heart.273

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Carlos Miller
Carlos Millerhttps://pinacnews.com
Editor-in-Chief Carlos Miller spent a decade covering the cop beat for various newspapers in the Southwest before returning to his hometown Miami and launching Photography is Not a Crime aka PINAC News in 2007. He also published a book, The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which is available on Amazon.

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