Police Brutality and Police Misconduct
The Miami-Dade County Independent Review Panel is recommending a
Miami-Dade Police officer be disciplined for the arrest of a nurse who
refused to draw blood on an inmate – what they are calling
on the cop’s behalf.
Hollant, who works as a registered nurse at Jackson Memorial
Ward D – the ward reserved for jail inmates - was arrested by
Richard Closius, after she told him she needed to wait for her shift
assignment before drawing blood on an inmate the officer had in his
custody. This is standard procedure for the nursing staff.
the answer was not good enough for the officer and he proceeded to
arrest her and charged her with Resisting Arrest Without Violence for
the incident that happened January 7, 2005. The department reduced
charges to Refusal To Aid A Police Officer, but after a judge threw out
charges against her, she decided to file a complaint with the
Independent Review Panel.
panel concluded that Closius be disciplined for overreacting and use of
excessive force. They called his conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Independent Review Panel is a nine-member volunteer civilian oversight
panel which publicly reviews serious complaints made by the public
against Miami-Dade County employees and departments, and the
department's response to the complaint. The Independent Review Panel
reports its findings and recommendations to the Department Director,
County Mayor, County Manager and County Commissioners. Public
discussion of all reports by the IRP panel members occurs "in the
01/26/2006 - Officer Allen St. Germain sat
stone-faced, staring at the court clerk as she read the jury's decision.
of the battery. Not guilty of the official misconduct.
could even begin reading the decision in his sergeant's case, St.
Germain began sobbing in silence.
and a half years after Peter Daniel claimed St. Germain and Sgt. George
Alvarez brutally beat him, more than a year after prosecutors charged
both with beating him and lying about it, six days after the trial
began, the case was over.
silently mouthed ''Thank you'' to the jurors.
took less than an hour to hand down the verdict.
Alvarez's attorney, Richard Sharpstein, said he figured the jury just
didn't buy Daniel's story.
that the jury saw through Peter Daniel,'' he said. ``He lied 12, 15, 20
times on the stand.''
claimed Alvarez and St. Germain beat him when he told them he didn't
know anything about a stolen personal watercraft. The personal
watercraft was taken from the home of another Sweetwater officer.
testified that he finally told the police to contact a friend about the
stolen personal watercraft, even though he didn't believe his friend
wanted to get the officers to stop kicking and punching him, he said.
officers took Daniel in Mayor Manuel Maroño's car to find
who was taken into custody but never charged. Maroño was
cleared of any
wrongdoing in the case.
couple hours later, officers called for an ambulance because Daniel
didn't look good. Doctors found he had a lacerated liver and spleen and
was hemorrhaging internally.
his closing statements, Sharpstein urged the jury to focus on
inconsistencies in the various statements Daniel made about that
evening in 2003. He pointed to the fact that Daniel admitted lying
about being able to work after he was injured.
people tell different stories up and down, it's not the truth,''
Sharpstein said. ``Beyond a reasonable doubt, you're going to believe
him? And not believe what my client writes under oath? A sworn police
and St. Germain's attorney, Doug Hartman, insisted that Daniel invented
the story so he could sue the city. Sweetwater settled the civil suit,
paying Daniel $2 million.
already gotten his reward in this case,'' Hartman told the jury.
``Don't help him any more.''
Isis Perez told the jury to consider all the Sweetwater officers and
employees who were at the tiny station that night yet said they didn't
''This is a
code of silence,'' she said. ``See no evil. Maybe hear some, but speak
questioned whether any of the defense's three theories of how Daniel
was injured made sense.
wrote in a report that Daniel lunged for his gun that night and that he
was forced to punch him.
next day, St. Germain wrote a report saying that Daniel hurt himself by
throwing himself against the walls of his holding cell.
But no one
in the station that night saw either alleged incident.
the defense argued that another inmate beat Daniel.
make sense,'' Perez told the jury.
verdict was read, Perez had little to say.
disappointed with the verdict, but the jury has spoken and the system
moves on,'' she said.
doctor who testified in the trial said Daniel could not have sustained
those injuries by throwing himself against the walls of his cell. But
the doctor also said he couldn't have had those injuries for hours,
throwing into question Daniel's version of events.
said both officers are expecting to go back to work in Sweetwater.
verdict has no bearing on the $2 million civil settlement.
01/26/2006 - SEMINOLE - A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy, responsible
for protecting school grounds, was arrested on Wednesday, Jan. 25, for
allegedly having sexual relations with a student at Osceola High School
Officer Todd J. Pierce, 40, was being held in the
Pinellas County Jail on $40,000 bail after he was charged with lewd and
lascivious molestation and lewd and lascivious battery, both felonies.
is accused of allegedly molesting a 15-year-old girl on multiple
occasions on Osceola High School grounds between Aug. 22 and Sept. 27,
2001. Detectives further claim that Pierce allegedly sexually assaulted
the same girl on Sept. 21, 2001 in the victim's home.
Office spokesman Mac McMullen said allegations against Pierce surfaced
in December and that detectives questioned more than 50 students before
Pierce was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 30. The case was
then turned over to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office on Jan.
On Jan. 25, a warrant was issued for Pierce's arrest, McMullen said.
to the Sheriff's Office records, Pierce became a deputy in 1992 and
worked six years in the county jail before being transferred to patrol
duties in 1998. Pierce was assigned as school resource officer at
Osceola High from 2000 to 2003, before being transferred to Dixie
Hollins High School in St. Petersburg where he worked until his
suspension in December.
An agency hearing was scheduled for Friday, Jan. 27, to determine if
Pierce should remain on paid leave.
01/23/2006 - State prosecutors are reviewing at least two dozen arrests
by two Miami-Dade County police officers that may be in jeopardy after
they themselves were arrested and accused of theft and falsifying
Daniel Fernandez and Joe Losada were arrested Jan. 12 after the
department mounted a sting operation, using a confidential informant
and surveillance tapes.
arrests call into question cases made by the pair in some of the
county's most drug-infested neighborhoods as part of the Crime
used to, unfortunately, whenever we prosecute a police officer for any
reason, we always send a notice out to all of our lawyers, saying, `If
you have any of these officers or this officer on a case, please let us
know,' '' Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández
next step will be to determine whether the street arrests were based
solely on the word of Losada or Fernandez, or whether other officers or
civilians were witnesses. Without corroborating witnesses, prosecutors
may be forced to drop some cases.
Miami-Dade Public Defender's Office has found at least 20 open cases
filed by one or both of the officers. The office also will look at some
of their older cases to determine whether anyone was wrongly convicted.
innocent people accept blame for crimes they either did not commit or
were not as serious as those charged, rather than risk trial in the
face of the overwhelming power of the government,'' Public Defender
Bennett Brummer said. ``Some of our clients may be in jail or prison
today as a result of the alleged misbehavior of these officers.''
a 15-year veteran, and Losada, on the force for nine years, were
arrested after they busted an informant planted by internal-affairs
investigators at a house at Northwest 18th Avenue and 95th Street.
say the two officers entered the house and found $970 in cash -- but
turned in only $570. Authorities believe that Losada falsified the
informant's arrest report, and when the two officers were arrested,
investigators found only $160 of the marked money.
what happened to the remaining $240. The investigation is ongoing, and
police have not ruled out more arrests.
officers have denied any wrongdoing. Losada's attorney, C. Michael
Cornely, said the department's professional-compliance bureau went too
''I have a
feeling they went out of their way to entrap one of their own,''
attorney said his client was not found with any of the allegedly stolen
went in, searched the drug dealer's house, found the money, turned it
over to one of the officers who was doing the property receipt,''
attorney Doug Hartman said. ``Evidently, some of that money was
missing, but that money was not found on him.''
say they have surveillance video from inside and outside the house, but
have not released it or discussed what it shows.
police Director Robert Parker agreed that a thorough review of the
officers' previous cases was necessary.
least four private defense attorneys have also identified clients
arrested by the two officers. In two cases, some of the charges were
dropped before the officers were arrested this month.
Moise was charged with possession of cocaine and two counts of
possession of marijuana in November after Fernandez said he saw Moise
selling drugs on Northwest 53rd Street.
attorney, Joe Klock, submitted an affidavit from Moise's employer
saying he was working 20 miles away.
officers entered Moise's aunt's house to arrest him, a Sony PlayStation
turned up missing, Klock said.
attorney also disputed Losada's arrest affidavit -- Klock said his
client wasn't outside and did not run from the police, as Losada
claimed. Instead, Moise was arrested as he sat on the toilet, Klock
dropped the case in December.
of cocaine possession and attempted murder of a police officer were
also dropped in the case of Derrel Burnett after Losada dictated an
arrest affidavit to another officer in April 2004.
Tony Nair, who wrote the affidavit, later gave a sworn statement that
he didn't know anything about the claims that Burnett was seen dealing
drugs, or that Burnett flipped a sergeant over his head and onto the
Alexander Ramirez told prosecutors that Burnett could not have flipped
him onto the ground when the two struggled and that Losada was mistaken
when he claimed Burnett was dealing drugs.
still faces other charges stemming from that incident, which left
Ramirez with two herniated disks in his neck. Burnett's attorney,
Andrew Rier, hopes to get the remaining charges dropped.
was really the driving force behind the arrest of my client,'' he said.
``He confused him with someone else.''
stressed that most Miami-Dade officers are professional and honest,
including three he deposed in Burnett's case.
fair that they will all be painted with a broad brush because of these
two guys,'' he said.
arrest could affect at least one case pending in federal court.
a March 16 incident report, Losada wrote that officers saw Armando
Delgado standing on the porch of a Northwest Miami-Dade house where
drugs had been sold earlier in the day. Delgado bolted at the sight of
the officers, who chased him into the house, Losada wrote.
officer claimed he tackled Delgado in a back room -- and spied a table
covered with drugs and a Browning .380 pistol. Delgado was charged with
armed drug trafficking.
01/22/2006 - Indicted deputy was called a 'role
model' in evaluation Dix faces federal charges for stunning civilian.
than a year ago, officer Charles Dix was an Escambia County deputy
whose personnel records portrayed an officer with a bright future.
Now, he faces federal charges for stunning a civilian witness with a
officer Dix's 2004 personnel evaluation, his supervisors called him a
"role model," a deputy who demonstrated "good judgment."
2005 personnel evaluation, he received an overall rating of "very
satisfactory" and was called "an asset to the department."
What the supervisors failed to note was that Dix had fired his Taser at
two civilians in separate incidents.
explanation from the supervisors who prepared the 2005 evaluation: Dix
"had been through enough," and they didn't want to record the second
incident. The first incident was never formally investigated by the
On Wednesday, Dix was indicted on two federal
charges of violating the civil rights of Martha Bledsoe of Pensacola by
using excessive force when he shot her four times with a Taser on Feb.
The Sheriff's Office in May settled a lawsuit filed by Bledsoe for
now is defending itself in a second lawsuit, filed in June by Chad
Baxter, who had an October 2003 run-in with Dix and a Taser. That case
The two citizens who were fired upon were -- at
least initially -- trying to cooperate with law enforcement or
emergency officials, court records show.
In both instances, records show, Dix pulled the Taser trigger four
times, delivering a 50,000-volt shock with each pull.
the 2003 incident, Dix zapped Baxter after he had been summoned to an
auto accident involving his pregnant wife, a lawsuit filed in U.S.
District Court states.
In the 2004 case, Bledsoe collapsed to
the ground after being tased. She had called the Sheriff's Office to
report a case of child abuse, court records and sheriff's reports show.
Dix resigned from the Sheriff's Office about three months ago and moved
out of state.
He is expected to surrender Wednesday to federal authorities in
Pensacola for his first appearance in the Bledsoe case.
Officer Dix could not be reached for comment, and his attorney, Neil
Hanley of Mobile, did not return calls.
Administrative records at the Sheriff's Office offer differing accounts
of Dix's history with the department.
show that even while his immediate supervisors were giving him annual
evaluations that rated him above average and very satisfactory, they
also filed a use-of-force report, a counseling sheet and admitted in an
internal affairs investigation that he used poor judgment.
The incidents with Baxter and Bledsoe are not documented in Dix's
is there documentation in his records that show the arrest charges Dix
filed against Baxter and Bledsoe were dropped long before they filed
Four days after officer Dix used a Taser on Bledsoe at
a Pensacola Wal-Mart, some of his supervisors gave Dix an outstanding
rating for his attitude and initiative on his annual 2004 evaluation
and stated he had a "high degree of good judgment" and "will develop at
the present pace to be a role model officer."
That same day, internal department records show, his supervisors wrote
him a letter of reprimand and confiscated his Taser.
Dix was called to the Wal-Mart parking lot to meet Bledsoe, who wanted
to report seeing a neighbor kick and abuse a 3-year-old.
deputy asked Bledsoe if, by parking in the fire lane, she believed she
was a fire truck, according to her lawsuit. He then called into
question every statement Bledsoe made about the alleged child abuse.
she used her cell phone to call dispatchers about his hostile attitude,
he ordered her off the phone and lunged toward her. When she screamed,
he then tried to take her into custody for disorderly conduct. When she
stepped away toward an approaching patrol car, Dix shot her in the back
with the Taser.
Lt. Pat Spears told Dix that she "could not
understand and asked him how you go from answering a complaint on a
child abuse and you get to the point of tasing the complainant,"
according to an internal affairs interview.
But Spears took a soft approach in a Feb. 7, 2004, counseling form to
Dix did not intend for this call for service to deteriorate to this
point," Spears wrote. "He has assured us it was a misunderstanding and
miscommunication of all involved."
Nevertheless, officer Dix's Taser was taken from him until "further
Dix's immediate supervisors made other records of the Bledsoe incident.
the night Dix stunned and then arrested Bledsoe, Lt. Bill Price, in a
suspect resistance report, noted that "it appears due to the
circumstances surrounding this incident that the use of the Taser was
In March 2004, Deputy Robert Powers, the Taser
control officer, learned that Dix's Taser had been taken from him on
orders from Capt. Bruce Wood. Powers asked Dix to return the charger
and case for the Taser and then contacted patrol Capt. Randy Brown.
Dix was very vocal about his opinions about having his Taser taken from
him," Powers wrote in an e-mail. "Captain Brown agreed that the Taser
should be taken from Deputy Dix ... Captain Brown advised that if
Deputy Dix continued to be vocal about having his Taser taken, that he
would find a position for Deputy Dix in court security."
Brown continued to note reservations about Dix's performance in 2005.
He received an overall rating of very satisfactory -- the
second-highest score -- and was called an asset to the department.
so strongly disagreed with Dix's evaluation he asked Spears and two
other supervisors, Wood and Sgt. Alan Barton, to look at the evaluation
They made no changes, which prompted Brown to attach a memo to Dix's
evaluation stating that he disagreed with the assessment.
is at least one incident ... occurring within the specified evaluation
period that demonstrated a lack of good judgment and job knowledge by
Deputy Dix," Brown wrote.
Spears told him that she, Wood and
Barton "believe that Deputy Dix had been through enough and didn't want
to record the incident on this evaluation."
Spears did not return a call seeking comment.
the immediate actions Dix's supervisors took after the Bledsoe arrest,
an internal investigation did not begin until November 2004.
Deputy Larry Smith said Friday that the department's command staff had
no knowledge of the severity of the situation involving Bledsoe. The
internal investigation was triggered only after senior administrators
listened to the audio tape of Bledsoe calling dispatchers, Smith said.
called on a cell phone for additional officers, according to sheriff's
reports and depositions, because Dix was being aggressive and seemed
unwilling to take her report of a child abuse incident.
"We did not know about it," Smith said. "From the patrol captain on up,
command staff did not know about it."
He could not recall how senior-level staff became aware of the audio
tape in November.
internal affairs report concluded that Dix did not have probable cause
to arrest Bledsoe and that she should have been released from custody
It also noted that Dix not only acted improperly, he
also could not explain why in-car video tapes that should have recorded
his encounter with Bledsoe could not be found.
He received a 30-day suspension at the conclusion of the investigation.
Incident in 2003
The Bledsoe incident, the reports and the internal investigation came
months after an Oct. 18, 2003, incident with Baxter.
According to the lawsuit, events unfolded like this:
Baxter was called to the Relax Inn on Mobile Highway because his
pregnant wife had been rear-ended by a drunken driver.
When emergency medical service workers asked him to calm his wife, he
got into the car next to her.
Deputy Corey Cephas told Baxter to get out of the car and threatened
him with arrest if he did not comply.
Baxter got out of the car, but, in explaining to another deputy why he
was in the car, insulted Cephas.
Cephas, the suit claims, grabbed Baxter and threw him against a Jeep.
Two other deputies, including Dix, also joined Cephas.
then pulled his Taser and shocked Baxter in the neck and back. A
Sheriff's Office record of Dix's Taser indicates he discharged the
weapon at least four times, the lawsuit states.
Baxter, Dix, with his Taser still in his hand, turned to a group of
witnesses and yelled: "Does anybody else want some?" according to the
Baxter was arrested, charged with resisting arrest -- a third-degree
felony -- and taken to Escambia County Jail.
On Jan. 7, 2004, the charges were dismissed by the State Attorney's
Smith said he was not aware of Baxter's lawsuit, which was filed in
may have been filed away with other suits against the Sheriff's Office,
Smith said, and would not come to the administration's attention until
it progressed to the point that depositions or other case action was
The department did not conduct an internal affairs investigation of the
Baxter incident, Smith said.
In speaking of the Bledsoe lawsuit and the indictment that followed,
Smith defended Dix, saying he "had a bad incident here."
"Did he make a mistake? Yes, he did," Smith said. "But he was a good
01/05/2006 - Zolfo
Springs -The police chief of Zolfo Springs has been arrested.
David William Scheid, 47, a former deputy with the Charlotte County
Sheriff's Office who was named Zolfo Springs chief in 2005, has been
charged with two felony counts of official misconduct; one felony count
of grand theft, one felony count of tampering with a witness, one
felony count of fabricating physical evidence and one count of petit
According to the arresting agency, the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement, the charges are the result of a month
and a half long investigation into allegations of falsification of
training records, sale of property held as evidence and the conversion
of items seized as evidence for his personal use.
Scheid was booked into the Hardee County Jail and bond was set at
Zolfo Springs is about 70 miles southeast of Tampa.
Scheid was hired as administrator of the police department in December
2004 and was promoted to chief last year.