Allegations of police misconduct

 

One investigation by the Broward Public Corruption Unit involved allegations of police misconduct by members of Hollywood's street crimes unit known as the Raiders. The investigation ended June 1996 with no charges being filed against any officers. "Police officers are the persons designated by society to make arrests, and their word is to be accepted, unless there is reason for it not to be, " prosecutor John Countryman said at the time. "To accuse a police officer of committing a crime in the course of his job there has to be a substantial amount of evidence."

"That usually means the testimony of another officer, a videotape backing up the claim or a disinterested witness whose testimony is airtight, " Countryman said. In May 1996, the State Attorney's Office probe into police misconduct was made public and included the following cases:

  • Dwight Edman who was arrested in January 1997 by Sgt. Jeff Marano and Officer Tony Fernandez on charges of delivering a fake cocaine rock to an undercover officer filed a civil suit against the city and the officers. Prosecutors dropped charges against Edman after Marano admitted the arrest was a mistake and a probable cause affidavit was incorrect.
  • Kieran Menkal, a cab driver for Friendly Cab, was pulled over in April 1996, after he took a passenger into a drug-plagued neighborhood. Members of Hollywood's street crimes unit claimed they found cocaine on the passenger and charged them both with possession. Prosecutors dropped the charge against Menkal because of insufficient evidence.
  • Stacey Burch filed a complaint against Officer Lyle Bien and members of the street crimes unit regarding the circumstances surrounding Burch's Feb. 29, 1996 arrest. He was charged with delivery and possession of cocaine. He claims he had no drugs on him when he was arrested and that police fabricated the charges knowing he was on probation. Miami-Dade County has been fertile ground for police corruption.
  • In 1980, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office lost a racially charged case against four county cops accused of the beating death of black insurance agent Arthur McDuffie and tampering with evodence.
  • In the mid-'80s, bad officers cut plea deals and turned against others in the Miami River Cops case, a corruption saga of drug ripoffs, bribes and murders.
  • In 1989, a Miami police officer testified against fellow cop William Lozano, who was convicted of killing a black motorcyclist and his passenger. Lozano, granted a new trial on appeal, was later acquitted.
  • In 1994, Miami police officers gave conflicting testimony in a conspiracy trial stemming from the fatal beating of drug dealer Leonardo Mercado, leading to a split jury verdict.
  • In 2003, two former veteran Miami officers testified against 11 fellow cops accused of using throw-down guns or lying to cover up misconduct in four questionable shootings between 1995 and 1997.

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