Miami-Dade Police

Miami-Dade cop arrested on DUI charges

 

Police say off-duty police officer Ryan Louis Robinson was drunk when he crashed his county vehicle into a supermarket cart at a Publix parking lot, causing minor injuries to two small girls.

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Manuel Garcia and his daughters Geah (left) 3 years, and Meah, 6, at their home in Cutler Ridge.
Manuel Garcia and his daughters Geah (left) 3 years, and Meah, 6, at their home in Cutler Ridge.
C.M. GUERRERO / el Nuevo Herald

bmedina@ElNuevoHerald.com

A Miami-Dade police officer faces four counts of driving under the influence, damage to property and causing minor injuries to two people while driving under the influence.

Officer Ryan Louis Robinson was arrested on charges of driving drunk and injuring two girls after crashing his personal vehicle into a shopping cart Saturday at Cutler Ridge Shopping Center, 20445 Old Cutler Rd.

Video of the incident taken by the father of the injured girls shows Robinson barely able to balance himself shortly after 8 p.m., while standing up in the shopping center’s parking lot.

Robinson, who was off duty, was outside the Publix Supermarket in the South Miami-Dade mall when he crashed into another vehicle, then a shopping cart carrying Meah Garcia, 6, and sister Geah, 3.

Manuel García, the girls’ father, desperately held on to the cart trying to prevent his daughters from falling out. Garcia later said Robinson ignored him, then tried to leave. That’s when the cart fell over and Meah and Geah hit the pavement, suffering minor bruises and head injuries.

Garcia quickly ran after Robinson, pulling him out of the car and snatching the keys.

“When I opened the door of the car, I could feel a strong smell of alcohol,” García told El Nuevo Herald from his Cutler Bay home. “I told him: ‘You’re going to have to wait here until the police arrive.’”

Even when Miami-Dade Police officers arrived, Garcia said Robinson was not tested for alcohol for several hours.

“The officers went and talked to [Robinson] for about 15 minutes and then came and asked me for my documents and registration,” García said. “I had to tell [them], ‘Look, I don’t think you understand what’s going on here — we are the victims.’”

García said other witnesses offered to give their versions, but a female officer told him that his statement was sufficient. Shortly afterward, García said, an officer told him he could leave.

“But I told him that I wouldn’t leave until I saw what happened with that man,” said Garcia. “Only then did I learn that he was a police officer. I think they tried to cover up the incident to protect one of their own instead of the real victims.”

García called a lawyer, who advised him to demand that a lieutenant come to the scene.

The arrest affidavit says an officer who arrived at 10:20 p.m. found Robinson without handcuffs, seated in the back of a patrol car. He was arrested after failing to pass a field sobriety test and refusing an alcohol breath test.

“I immediately observed the following symptoms: Odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath, and red bloodshot watery eyes,” officer F. Kinsey Smith said in the arrest report.

García recorded part of the incident on his cellphone. On it, two officers are seen giving Robinson instructions to walk on a line. It took Robinson about 30 seconds to balance himself before taking a few staggered steps.

Robinson, 41, who works out of The Hammocks substation, was released from jail after paying his bond. The county’s traffic homicide unit is investigating the incident. Police said Robinson has been relieved of duty with pay.

The little girls were in good condition Tuesday, though still frightened from incident. They complained of headaches, García said.

“Imagine, they don’t want to go back to the supermarket because of what happened, and now they get scared when they see a police officer,” their father said. “I don’t even remember well what I felt when I saw my daughters falling to the ground. My mind went blank for an instant.”

This has been one of several accidents that Robinson has been involved in since he joined the county police department in 2003.

Robinson had a string of accidents in county vehicles during a 21/2 year stretch between October 2004 and March 2007 when he was a member of the department’s tactical robbery intervention team — a detail in which it isn’t unusual for officers to use their undercover vehicles in chases.

During that stretch, Robinson was involved in nine accidents, three the department ruled were preventable.

But Robinson’s 10th accident, in July 2013, was far more serious than the others. Investigators found Robinson at fault for crashing his vehicle as he tried to avoid a head-on collision on Old Cutler Road at Southwest 173rd Terrace. A bottle of alcohol was later found in his marked vehicle.

A police department disciplinary action report says, “You are hereby advised that this type of conduct is unacceptable."

He was suspended for three weeks in July and August over the incident” And last month, a police report indicated Robinson also should receive a written reprimand for purchasing and transporting alcohol in his vehicle.

In 2007, Robinson was involved in a controversial double-shooting of two 21-year-old men in Little Haiti. The incident spurred protests. Robinson and partner Michael Mendez had pulled over Michael Knight and Frisco Blackwood at a dead end on Northwest 65th Street and ordered them out of the car.

The officers said one of the men put the car in reverse and smashed into their vehicle. The officers opened fire, killing both men.

Fifteen months later, Miami-Dade prosecutors cleared both of any wrongdoing after a female passenger said the men rammed the police car on purpose in an attempt to get away.

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