A prominent South Florida attorney has been arrested after police officers said he refused to cooperate with cops during a shooting incident involving a man who was living at his South Miami-Dade home.
Joseph Klock was charged this week with misdemeanor resisting without violence and obstructing justice. Miami-Dade police said Klock refused to open a door for police officers investigating Antonio Scott, who wound up arrested and accused of threatening a woman with an AK-47 at the lawyer’s home.
Klock on Thursday said he was wrongfully arrested, and blamed an overzealous Miami-Dade police lieutenant “showing off” to his fellow officers. He plans to fight the charges.
“He had his fun. Mine is next up,” Klock said, adding, “There’s no chance I would resist arrest.”
Said his defense lawyer, Thomas Cobitz: “Basically, they arrested a 70-year-old guy who didn’t open up the door fast enough.”
Klock, 70, is well known in Miami’s civil and criminal justice system. He was part of the legal team that represented Florida’s secretary of state in the drawn-out legal battle over the results of Florida’s 2000 general election.
He was a former partner at Miami’s influential law firm Steel Hector & Davis. Klock has represented a host of well-heeled clients on a variety of civil and criminal cases as the founder of Rasco Klock. He has also represented many clients who cannot afford representation. And he earned an $850,000 jury verdict for a man who said he was wrongfully arrested for murder by Miami police.
Klock was also the board chairman at the now-defunct Bay Point Schools, a reform school in Miami-Dade for young men with behavioral and delinquency issues. It closed a decade ago.
Scott, 35, was a former Bay Point student who was living at Klock’s sprawling home just outside South Miami.
“Over the years he has opened up his home to people who have troubled pasts and need help,” said his friend and associate, lawyer Hilton Napoleon. “He has paid for people’s educational bills. I just hope everyone understands where his heart was at when this unfortunate situation happened.”
Scott was living with his two daughters at Klock’s home. “He’s somebody who has a family life and needed help,” Klock said.
This week’s incident happened on Tuesday night when officers rushed to Klock’s home on the 5000 block of Southwest 82nd Street after reports of gunfire. Officers, their guns drawn, said they were looking for a possible gunman and victims.
Klock was at his office at the time. According to an arrest report, Klock then showed up and offered to open a bedroom door inside the home for police, the report said.
Klock knocked on the door and called out a name. Officers, worried there may be someone shot inside, ordered him to open the door or hand over the key.
The lawyer “refused to hand over the key or open the door and began clenching his hand where the key was located,” according to the arrest report. “The defendant then became uncooperative and hindered the search of the residence for victims and the suspect.”
As officers arrested Klock, he began yelling out, “Don’t f---ng touch me,” the report said.
Klock told the Miami Herald that the details on the arrest report were fabricated.
“I offered to assist them and then I got arrested,” Klock said, adding: “If [police] do this type of thing to me, imagine what they are doing on a daily basis to the average poor person.”
Klock was jailed briefly before being released. Scott had fled the scene, but was found later and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Police said Scott threatened a woman and her daughter with an AK-47, and also attacked them with a baseball bat. He remained jailed on Thursday morning.
As for what happened with Scott’s case, Klock said: “I know nothing about it. I wasn’t in the house at the time.”
This was Klock’s second interaction with police at his home in recent months.
Klock’s arrest came more than a month after a man living at Klock’s home was also accused of violence. In February, 24-year-old Christopher Sanders was arrested after police said he had a mental breakdown, smashed through a glass window of Klock’s home and then broke into a neighbor’s house, attacking the neighbor.
In the February case, Sanders was charged with a host of felonies, including armed burglary. Police said Sanders left Klock’s house and used a glass rod to break into a neighbor’s home. Klock said Sanders, whom he has known since the young man was a child, was having a psychotic break.
Inside the neighbor’s home, Sanders began rampaging, trying to hit the neighbor with a large heavy glass vase. The neighbor managed to subdue Sanders, who knocked off his glasses and “was acting delirious and attempted to bite him in the face,” according to a police report.
Police interviewed Klock that day on the scene. He began representing Sanders soon afterward. The State Attorney’s Office asked a judge to kick Klock off the case, saying there was a conflict of interest because the lawyer is a “material witness” in the case against Sanders.
The court docket shows Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Charles Johnson declined, and allowed Klock to remain representing Sanders.