Prosecutor, defense attorney chase phone thief at Miami courthouse

Dachel Gonzalez
Dachel Gonzalez Miami-Dade Corrections

A prosecutor and defense lawyer — normally legal adversaries — teamed up Monday to fight crime, chasing down a suspected cell-phone thief at the Miami-Dade criminal courthouse.

After a routine morning of calender calls, Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Chiaka Ihekwaba and defense attorney Jose Herrera were chit-chatting while riding down the escalator when a man suddenly jostled past them. He forcefully bumped Ihekwaba, a longtime division chief in Miami’s criminal court.

She instinctively felt the side pocket of her brown Michael Kors purse. Her iPhone 6 was gone.

Ihekwaba and Herrera raced after the man, who bolted through the first-floor exit door onto the steps of Miami’s Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building in Miami.

“I immediately started running after him, yelling, ‘Stop! Thief! You took my phone! Bring it back,” Ihekwaba recalled.

The commotion drew the attention of Miami Beach Police Officer Kevin Millan and defense lawyer Juan de Jesus Gonzalez, who saw the man toss the iPhone on the steps, according to an arrest report.

Millan and a Miami cop immediately detained the man, identified as Dachel Gonzalez, 32, who is already awaiting trial at the courthouse on battery charges from after an arrest in August. Miami-Dade police court services officers charged Dachel Gonzalez with third-degree felony grand theft. He was taken back to the courthouse for booking. He could not be reached and it was not known if he had retained an attorney.

The defense lawyers will now be in the unusual position of being witnesses in a criminal case.

“I was going to tackle him and destroy him right there,” said defense attorney Gonzalez. “But since there was a police officer right there, I didn’t have to.”