There have been a number of incidents in recent years in the Miami area involving the local police using violence against people who have already been detained. In a few situations, the officers involved have also gone out of their way to cover up their misconduct. Thankfully, the fact that many of these incidents are being caught on camera gives hope to victims, as there is little defense in cases where officers clearly take advantage of a detained suspect by assaulting them.
A number of beatings by city and county police
A 2018 beating involved a Miami-Dade Police Officer punching a man in the face after he was already detained and posed to no threat to anyone nearby. Another officer who was present at the time is being criminally charged for attempting to tamper with the video cameras that recorded the misconduct. That suspect was being brought in on a warrant for thefts, and he had no previous history of violent crime. The officer who threw the punch was also criminally charged, but not until about a year later.
Other actions that happened around the same time involved a City of Miami officer kicking a man in the head after he was already handcuffed and on the ground. That officer was charged with criminal battery. Another investigation involved an officer from the same department stomping on a woman’s head, which did not result in any criminal charges being filed. There was yet another beating that involved multiple Miami-Dade Police Officers violently hitting a suspect after he had been stopped for tossing bottles out of a car window. Around the time of these problems, Mayor Carlos Gimenez voted to veto the creation of a group that would independently oversee police behavior in the area. It seems that victims will have an uphill battle regarding any disciplinary actions that could be taken against officers who engage in this kind of behavior.
Based on these acts of violence and others that have not been listed which involved similar conduct, it is safe to say that Miami area police routinely engage in a pattern of inappropriate behavior. Unfortunately, not all of these actions result in criminal charges being filed by the local State Attorney’s Office, even when there is clear evidence of misconduct captured on video.
What can be done after an incident of police violence?
The disciplinary actions taken by either the employing department or local prosecutor against an officer can be severe in some circumstances. However, this decision for an internal affairs committee or a prosecutor’s office to take action by filing criminal charges or suspending an officer is ultimately out of the victim and the public’s hands. Investigations by the department usually remain confidential, and in Florida each county has its own State Attorney’s Office which has total control over whether a criminal case against the officer will ever materialize. The only accessible and effective remedy for a victim of police brutality is to retain a lawyer and file a civil lawsuit against the offending officer as well as their department or local government. Ideally, this will result in victims being compensated through settlements or judgments for things like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering that result from injuries. There are a number of civil rights laws that are related to incidents of police brutality. This allows lawyers to file claims for things like excessive use of force, unlawful arrest, harassment, and discrimination. An experienced lawyer who has dealt with police misconduct in the past will know exactly how to handle the damage caused to each victim after receiving some basic information.
Get legal help in the Miami area today
There are lawyers licensed to practice in the state of Florida who can have a conversation with you about mistreatment by the police. Many of them have been practicing law in the local Miami courts for many years and they can tell you exactly how to proceed after learning the details of your case.