After nearly two months of legal wrangling over Miami officials’ unheeded demands for 24-7 video surveillance of an Overtown convenience store they say is plagued by drug crime, a U.S. magistrate judge has sided with the city, recommending that the judge presiding over the case reject the owner’s claims that the directives are unconstitutional.
The recommendation, filed in Miami federal court by Magistrate Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes, states Miami police have the right to monitor any properties in the city if necessary for law enforcement activities, and that the owner of Bradley’s Market, who sued the city in April, has no legal expectation of privacy outside her store. Otazo-Reyes, making the recommendation to U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles, also rejected owner Corine Bradley’s request for a temporary restraining order against the city.
Bradley, 74, has decried what she calls unconstitutional and invasive orders from the city’s Nuisance Abatement Board to make her install a security camera outside her store and give cops complete access to that footage and permission to bar customers from the store, which has been in business since 1969, when Bradley used to serve up home-made chicken perlo and pester neighborhood kids to do their homework.
Hilton Napoleon, Bradley’s attorney, filed an objection to Otazo-Reyes’ recommendation on Tuesday, maintaining that the Nuisance Abatement Board’s demand for 24-7 surveillance of Bradley’s store — and on Bradley’s dime — violates her Fourth Amendment right to privacy and Fifth Amendment right against the government’s taking of private property.
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“Ms. Bradley will prevail because she has a reasonable expectation of privacy against warrantless governmental surveillance at her business, which is objectively reasonable and recognized by society,” Napoleon wrote in his objection. Bradley first filed suit in April.
The city points to a two-month span in the summer of 2016, when police made nine drug-related arrests outside Bradley’s store, 1139 NW Second Ave., in the historically black Overtown neighborhood. Although the arrests never led to convictions — six of them stemmed from the actions of one suspected drug dealer over a span of 34 minutes — the city deemed the store a nuisance property on Sept. 28, 2016. While defending the move in February, a member of the city’s Nuisance Abatement Board said the phrase “big brother” came to mind.
“I can’t help what happens in the street,” said Bradley, who’s been fined at least $4,000 for refusing to give police access to the camera outside the store. “They want me to do stuff police haven’t been able to do in years.”
The beefed up police attention, along with three cameras on the property — which Bradley refuses to give Miami police access to — have proven a deterrent to more than just drug crimes. Business has been slow since April, as longtime customers avoid shopping at the store, which sells snacks and beverages, to avoid police attention.
“It’s just slow because people are afraid they’re gonna be harassed,” she said.
Otazo-Reyes said the ordered surveillance does not violate Bradley’s right to privacy, and that her claim under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause is not “ripe” for review by a court because she hasn’t been denied all reasonable use of her property.
She wrote that Bradley’s request for an injunction against the city should be denied because it does not meet four requirements, which include the existence of a threat to irreparable injury that outweighs any harm the injunction would give to the city or the public.
Bradley, who was unaware of the recommendation, said she remains hopeful Judge Gayles will rule in her favor — and that she needs to call her lawyer.
“I don’t need this aggravation, that’s for sure,” she said.