The Miami-Dade Police Department – which made national news this week by tackling, choking and arresting a 14-year-old boy with a puppy because he had given them “dehumanizing stares” – attempted to chase away a photojournalist from a public sidewalk Friday for no logical reason other than a cop felt the need to shove his weight around.
Taylor Hardy, who runs the blog, Miami Impulse Photography, and is a student at the Miami Media School, was covering a story about a ten-year-old girl who had died of cancer after a well-publicized battle that garnered the sympathy 0f many in the community as well as throughout the world with a Facebook page that received more than 66,000 “likes.”
After Bella Rodriguez-Torres’ death, the local media ran the times and locations of her funeral and burial as well as the location and time for a church gathering in her honor, all which were open to the public.
Hardy was standing on a public sidewalk across the street from the church during the mass preceding her funeral when the cop told him he had to move.
“Sir, the media is down the street, they don’t want any cameras here,” a cop tells Hardy.
Hardy tells him a police sergeant had already given him permission, not to mention that it was a public sidewalk where people were freely walking through as you can see at :55 into the video.
But Miami-Dade Police Sergeant H. Caraballo insisted he had to move to the media staging area, which wasn’t even set up yet and only makes sense if a public information officer is about to give a statement to the media.
The two debated for almost four minutes with Caraballo finally relenting and walking away, telling Hardy to have a nice day.
Hardy got off lucky because this is the same police department whose public information officer arrested me for video recording on a public sidewalk in January 2012, not exactly the most knowledgeable when it comes to media law.
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It is also the same police department that arrested a teenager with a puppy last week for giving them a dehumanizing stare in an incident caught on video.
According to the Miami New Times:
During Memorial Day weekend, McMillian was rough-housing with another teenager on the sand. Police approached the teen on an ATV and told him that wasn’t acceptable behavior. They asked him where his parents were, but MicMillian attempted to walk away. The officer jumped off the ATV, and tried to physically restrain the teen. According to CBS Miami, police say the 14-year-old kid gave them “‘dehumanizing stares,’ clenched his fists and appeared threatening.”
McMillian says he was carrying a six-week old puppy at the time and couldn’t have been clenching his fists because he was feeding the dog with a bottle. He claims that during the confrontation the dog’s front left paw was injured while officer forcibly separated him from the dog.
The officer then forced McMillian to the ground and put him in a choke hold.
Last year, a group of Miami-Dade cops were fired after they were caught on video deliberately not responding to calls.