Miami police are investigating an embarrassing roadside scuffle between two of their own after a traffic stop devolved into an afternoon wrestling match on the side of Flagler Street.
The brief June 24 struggle between Officer Marcel Jackson and Lt. David Ramras was captured by Jackson’s personal dash-camera — which supervisors say was rolling without their knowledge. The footage is now evidence in a state attorney’s office investigation.
The video, first obtained by the Crespogram Report, shows Jackson driving around Miami and pulling over an allegedly speeding silver Chevrolet sedan next to a Westar gas station on Flagler. He approaches the car, and after about 30 seconds the man behind the wheel opens the car door and tries to get out.
When the door swings open, Jackson extends his arms and pushes the driver, Ramras, back up against the car’s frame. The two men grapple, and then Jackson drops Ramras to the ground on his back and straddles his torso. Almost immediately, Miami officers in three squad cars arrive and break up the scuffle.
On the video, Ramras stands up and is heard yelling, “You do know who the f--k I am.”
“No, I don’t,” Jackson shouts back at him.
Later, Jackson gets back in his car, points his camera down to his seats, and describes the encounter during an apparent phone conversation.
“He pushes open the door, hits me with the door. So I pushed the door back like stay in the car and he’s like ‘I’m lieutenant of police! I’m lieutenant of police!’ and he pushes his way out of the car. So I took him to the ground,” Jackson is heard saying. “I’ve never seen this guy. I don’t even know who this guy is.”
Police Chief Manuel Orosa said police aren't certain what caused the wrestling match, but he said that Ramras identified himself and provided identification before getting out of the car.
The two men involved in the incident have been relieved of their posts for now — but for different reasons.
Ramras has been moved from internal affairs to a post in command staff's office doing paperwork while the investigation being conducted by Miami's Special Investigative Section plays out. Jackson has been relieved of duty with pay, because police say, he refused to hand over the personal GoPro camera that recorded the event as well as several traffic violations.
Jackson visited the police department with his GoPro and provided the scene of the confrontation with Ramras, said Orosa. But the chief said he hasn't turned over any of the other recordings, and police are worried he’s hiding records.
“An officer recording traffic stops with a private camera, the rules say you can't do that,” said Orosa. “We're liable for what he does at work and it [the video] needs to be stored for safekeeping. If it's destroyed, that's a no-no.”
Late Monday, Jackson’s attorney sent a letter to Orosa in which he disputed that Ramras identified himself. He said Miami police treated the officer as a suspect and lieutenant as a victim after the altercation, and called on the department to reinstate Jackson and recuse itself entirely from an internal review of the incident.
The internal police investigation has for now been handed over to the state attorney's office, which will decide whether to press charges.
Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, did not return phone calls, an email and a text message Monday. The union issued a press release saying neither man has made a statement to investigators, and welcoming the conclusion of the investigation.
Mayor Tomás Regalado called the video “a shame.”
“It really looks bad because it’s right in the middle of Flagler and you have a plainclothes officer fighting another officer,” he said. “But it doesn’t represent our police department.”