The incompetency of the Miami Police Department is on full display in bodycam videos showing them arresting a man who had called them for help after his car had been stolen because he happened to match the description of the man who had stolen his car.
Samuel Scott Jr., who had called police after his 2006 black Jeep Compass was stolen from in front of his aunt’s house, is a 5’10” Black man with a shaved head and beard who was wearing a white tank top underneath a black shirt that day.
The man who stole his car was described as a Black man approximately 6’2″ with a shaved head and beard who was wearing a white tank top.
That was enough for Miami police to deduce he was the suspect. They ended up handcuffing him and charging him with several crimes, including reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, false reporting of a crime, failure to carry a concealed weapon license and possession of marijuana.
The 46-year-old man ended up spending more than 24 hours in jail before he was released.
The incident took place on June 1, 2018 but last week Scott filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami accusing the cops of unlawful search and seizure, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
According to the lawsuit which you can read here, Scott called police around 6 p.m. that day to report his car stolen from in front of his aunt’s house.
At 6:05 p.m., Miami police officer Jonathan Guzman spotted the stolen car about two miles from his aunt’s house and said he began following it because it was driving 20 mph over the speed limit.
The driver of the car ended up crashing into another car and the driver fled the scene. Guzman described the man fleeing as a 6’2″ heavyset Black man with a shaved head and beard and wearing a white tank top.
Meanwhile, Miami police officer Michael Bloom was dispatched to the aunt’s house to take a report of the stolen car. At one point, Bloom called Scott on his cellphone to determine his location. Scott was standing outside and waved at the cop when spotting him.
Bloom asked Scott if there was a possibility his car had been repossessed but Scott said no. He then asked Scott to fill out an affidavit to describe what had taken place which he did.
A few minutes later, Guzman pulled up to the scene along with several other cops, including Brandon Williams, Miguel Hernandez and Randy Carriel who are all listed in the lawsuit.
Guzman quickly determined that Scott was the same man he had seen running away from the crash even though Scott at the moment had been talking to Bloom, the first cop to arrive on the scene.
Carriel pulled out his taser and was ready to use it as they ordered Scott to place his hands on the car and patted him down. He was handcuffed and placed in the back of the car despite proclaiming his innocence.
“I’m telling you, you guys have the wrong guy,” Scott tells them in the bodycam video.
“The description of the guy who took off in your car is just like yours,” Guzman responds.
“But that’s half of Miami, baldheaded with a beard?” Scott says.
Charges against him were eventually dismissed but police never returned his personal items, including a wallet and cellphone which can be seen on the trunk of the cop car in the video, NBC Miami reported last year.
An internal affairs investigation also determined that Miami police turned off their body cameras at several points throughout the interaction with Scott but it is not clear if the cops were ever disciplined, according to the NBC article.
Miami police have had a long history of corruption and abuse, especially towards the city’s Black community which make up almost 17 percent of the population. The U.S. Department of Justice has investigated the department several times over the decades but the corruption and abuse has continued.
Earlier this year, the city of Miami hired former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo who proclaimed he was going to reform the department but that did not go too well when he accused the city council of using local cops as their personal goons to intimidate political rivals, according to the Washington Post.
Acevedo, who was born in Cuba but grew up in Los Angeles, referred to the city council as the “Cuban Mafia,” which is what led to his termination after only six months on the job as police chief.
(Full disclosure: Miami police was the agency who arrested PINAC News editor-in-chief Carlos Miller in 2007 for photographing them against their wishes, leading to the creation of this website.)