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Miami Gardens police hit with another lawsuit

Weeks after being sued in federal court for alleged civil rights violations and police discrimination, the city of Miami Gardens and its police department are once again being accused of racial profiling, using excessive force and violating civil rights.

The city and two police officers, Randy Carpenter and Michael Horn, are being sued in Miami-Dade Circuit Court by Michael Asia, 22, a resident who alleged that the officers beat him without cause and denied him medical treatment. Asia is suing for damages totaling more than $75,000. The suit was filed Dec. 3.

In his complaint, Asia claimed that on Dec. 4, 2010, he was leaving his girlfriend’s house and was near 17711 NW 14th Ave. when an unmarked police car pulled up near him. Three plain-clothes officers, Carpenter, Horn and Alex Barney, jumped out of the vehicle and did not identify themselves as police, according to the complaint.

Asia ran away and hid until uniformed officers arrived and he was arrested. Asia, who was already handcuffed, was then tossed to the ground and struck in the head by Carpenter and Horn, according to the complaint. He was eventually charged with multiple counts of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence. Asia was jailed for 40 days before bonding out. All charges against him were dropped on July 27, 2011.

The three officers also are listed as defendants in 207 Quickstop’s owner Alex Saleh’s case against the city. Barney is not a defendant in Asia’s suit.

Saleh alleged in his case, and in store surveillance videos provided to the Miami Herald, that officers harassed and profiled his employees and customers hundreds of times, often using stop-and-frisk tactics. His employee, Earl Sampson, has been arrested for trespassing 62 times despite working at the store since 2011.

The complaint also said that police officers were told to target young black men, to accost groups of three or more and “to increase statistics by increasing number of arrests and field interrogations.”

“The Mayor and City Council have been advised of the official policy of the police department of harassing citizens, unnecessary arrests, the drawing of firearms unnecessarily, the repeated complaints of citizens, and have ratified the misconduct of the police department by taking no action,” the complaint said.

This last claim is aimed at making out a case that the city violated federal civil rights law, which would allow Asia to recover his attorney’s fees and to bypass state limits on jury awards against cities.

City Attorney Sonja Dickens declined to comment on the case.

Asia’s case is being handled by the law firm Clyne and Associates. Lawyer Reginald Clyne said that he initially found out about Asia’s situation through working a case for former police department employee, Wanda Gilbert. He said that beyond the allegations, the force’s issues go to the top.

“It’s a department that has had really poor leadership,” Clyne said. “You can’t solve a crime by being in the office all day long.”

Gilbert was a crime intelligence analyst for the police department and sued the city two years ago claiming that she was discriminated against for telling Chief Matthew Boyd and former city manager Danny Crew about racist activity by officers and MGPD staff.

She claimed that she and other black staff members were disciplined more harshly by superiors and called derogatory terms. No action in her case has been taken since June.

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