According to a recent Miami Herald report, a former police chief in a small Florida town allegedly encouraged officers to pin unsolved crimes on random African-American people in order to improve the town’s crime stats.
An investigation into the Biscayne Park Police Department from 2014 revealed many disturbing details of the organization’s racist practices.
The town’s police, in 2013 and 2014, solved 29 of 30 burglary cases which was a matter of immense pride for the former Chief Raimundo Atesiano, and according to one officer who worked under him, Atesiano wanted to maintain the record by any means.
Sadly, in his desperation to do so, he began targeting innocent minorities.
“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” an official, Anthony De La Torre, told outside investigators conducting the probe. ”They were basically doing this to have a 100 per cent clearance rate for the city.”
Four officers — a third of the small force —said they were pressurized to file false charges and felt they really didn’t have a choice in the matter.
According to former Biscayne Park village manager Heidi Shafran, the orders given to the officers were loud and clear.
“The letters said police were doing a lot of bad things,” Shafran said. “It said police officers were directed to pick up people of color and blame the crimes on them.”
Just recently, Atesiano and two officers, Raul Fernandez and Charlie Dayoub, were charged with federal civil rights violations for falsely accusing a black Haitian-American teenager — identified as T.D. — with burglaries despite having almost no evidence.
A 35-year-old black man, Erasmus Banmah, was also arrested under Atesanio’s tenure and charged with five counts of vehicle burglaries in a single day.
Regardless, all have pleaded not guilty to the accusations.
However, it is noteworthy that Atesiano resigned abruptly after the investigation was launched in 2014 despite having an impressive record in his two-year tenure.
Also, after his departure, the number of successful convictions by the department plummeted. In fact, that year not a single burglary case out of unsolved ones came to any sort of conclusion, the Herald noted.
Later, the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office dismissed all the charges that were placed against T.D., including previous accusations of fleeing and eluding the scene of a crime and those related to a rape case.
The highly unethical practice came to light when officers wrote a letter to the town’s leadership where they also included details about the offenses committed by some other officers of the police department.
The report included complains against the second in command, Capt. Lawrence Churchman, who allegedly had an ugly tendency of hurling racist and sexist comments.
“The captain has said on several different occasions he doesn’t want any n*****s, f*****s or women bitches working at Biscayne Park,” officer Thomas Harrison told an investigator.
Churchman was suspended from the department during a 2014 investigation.
“It is ridiculous to believe that I would encourage sworn officers to falsify crime reports and to pin crimes on innocent people when clearing crimes was not my responsibility,” Churchman defended himself in a statement to the Herald.
As of yet, it isn’t clear how many black people were wrongfully charged just so the former chief could reportedly boast about his performance.
It really is a shame how people of color in the country are considered as lesser humans and certain bigots don’t mind turning their lives upside down for personal gains.
A trial date for the three is set for later this month.
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