A Miami-Dade Metrorail security guard violently attacked a commuter Thursday night after handcuffing him for no valid reason, jamming a gun into his ribs, smashing his face into the platform and punching him in the face and head repeatedly – the third time since last year that armed 50 State security guards proved to be completely out of control and an endangerment to the general public.
Not that anybody from the county is making an issue about it.
In fact, Michael Valencia, 21, who ended up with three broken teeth, one black eye and a busted lip is grateful the Miami-Dade police officer who responded to the scene did not take him to jail, but instead dropped him off at a bus stop, ensuring him that the incident will be fully “investigated.”
But that also means he could face felony battery charges against the guard, he said.
And considering 50 State Senior Vice President and Project Manager Fred Taylor spent 35 years at the Miami-Dade Police Department, including more than ten years as its director, and is known to insiders as the key link between the private security company and its multimillion dollar contract with the county, it is unlikely anybody in the county is going to put the blame on the guards.
At least if history is any indicator.
I have a long history with 50 State ever since they “permanently banned” me for taking photos in 2010, which is completely legal, and have been assaulted and attacked several times after that for taking photos, including a savage attack last year where they dragged me down the escalator in a chokehold and almost killed me. I filed a lawsuit against them, which you can read here. We are scheduled to go to trial in May. Videos of my incidents are below.
Also, last May one of their guards was caught on video tossing out an 82-year-old woman because she was singing the gospel, which also resulted in a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, Valencia’s friend, Cole Nichols, attempted to record the latest attack, but had no extra storage space on his phone.
Nevertheless, the guard, described as a stocky black man wearing glasses, kept trying to swipe at Nichols’ phone as he struggled with Valencia.
Other commuters attempted to record the aftermath as Valencia sat handcuffed and bloodied at the security kiosk but guards chased them away, ordering them to stop recording.
The incident most likely was captured on surveillance video, which we will be requesting Monday morning through a public records request.
At one point, after the guard began punching Valencia on the platform of the Vizcaya Station, Nichols pushed the guard off, allowing his friend to get free. The two men started running towards the stairs but the guard pulled out his gun.
“He said, ‘freeze or I’ll shoot you,'” Nichols said.
Valencia froze but Nichols continued running. When he reached downstairs, he tried to enlist the help of another guard but that guard tried to detain him, so Nichols ran out the station and did not stop running until he reached his home in downtown Miami.
The incident began around 8 p.m. Thursday after Valencia and Nichols had gotten off work from the Human Rights Campaign in Coconut Grove. They first joined a few co-workers for happy hour at the Cheesecake Factory in Cocowalk before buying a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon bottles and walking to the Coconut Grove station where they had planned to ride the train to Nichols’ home in downtown to drink the beer.
Valencia attempted to pay for Nichols and himself with his monthly fare card that contained about $20 of credit but the turnstile locked when Valencia tried to use it a second time for himself after Nichols had already entered.
That was when the 50 State security guard confronted them in an angry tone.
“‘Hey fucker, we see what you’re doing, go get your ass another ticket,’” Valencia described the guard as saying.
Valencia walked to the outside ticket vending machine and bought a single ticket to get inside. As he went up to the second-floor platform, they discussed how rude the guard had been, which made the guard even angrier.
“He comes after us with a brisk face and says, ‘if you want to say shit, say it to my face,'” Valencia said.
“I was like, ‘I’m not really here to start problems.’
“He says, ‘take that fucking smirk off your face.’
“I’m like, ‘I’m not smirking, that’s just my face.'”
The guard then asked if they had been drinking, pulling out his flashlight and shining it at the unopened 12-pack of beer.
“Are you going to throw a bottle at me?'” Valencia quoted the guard as asking.
The guard then ordered them out of the station.
The two walked up US 1 to the Vizcaya Station about a couple of miles up the road, paying for their fare and making their way upstairs to the train platform.
To their dismay, the same security popped out of the shadows and confronted them.
“‘I told you guys to stay off the fucking rail,'” Valencia described the guard as saying.
The guard pulled out his handcuffs and began wrestling with Valencia.
“He slammed Mike’s head into a trashcan,” Nichols said. “He reached back and started punching him in the face.”
Nichols managed to shove the guard off Valencia and the two started running for the stairs, but the guard pulled out his gun, pointed it at them and ordered them to stop.
Valencia stopped, fearing he would be shot as Nichols continued running.
“I get to the bottom of the stairs and see another security guard,” Nichols said. “I told him the other guard just punched my friend and pulled a gun on us.”
But that security guard moved in to detain him, so Nichols took off running.
“I felt bad about leaving Mike but I was freaking out,” he said.
Meanwhile, Valencia was already in handcuffs, but the guard continued beating him, ordering him to “stop resisting.”
The guard threw Valencia into the elevator, joined by another 50 State security guard, and continued beating him all the way down.
“He punched me in the face repeatedly and threw me against the wall and the other guard kept saying, “it’s because you’re a thug,'” Valencia said.
They marched him to the kiosk and ordered him to sit down with his knees up, continually pushing his face down into them.
“I was screaming hysterically, yelling that he beat me, asking someone to please help me,” Valencia said.
That was when a couple of commuters attempted to record the scene, but the guards ordered them away.
“I couldn’t see them, but I heard the guards say, ‘stop fucking recording,'” Valencia said.
Paramedics arrived, but refused to treat Valencia, just as they did to me after my Metrorail attack last year.
“I told them what happened and they said, ‘I don’t fucking care,’ and they went to treat the guard instead,” he said.
A Miami-Dade police officer named Gregory Carter seemed to empathize size with Valencia, informing him that the case will be investigated by a detective named Darling.
Carter drove him to a bus stop so he could go home, but the bus never came, so Valencia called his dad to pick him up.
His dad was sickened when he saw his son.
“He was very nervous, almost in shock,” said Rafael Valencia.
“This is what I saw in Cuba when I left in 1969. It’s not supposed to happen in this country.”
But it does happen in this country. More than most would like to admit. And it has happened way too often on the Miami-Dade Metrorail.
Miami filmmaker Billy Corben, who first notified me of this incident, is outraged and vows to demand some accountability from the county.
This is the third serious incident recently reported involving Metrorail guards from 50 State Security attacking passengers. Now, with a gun allegedly involved, it appears the violence is escalating. I’m frightened to think what they might do to somebody next time. Ultimately, I hold our public officials accountable. They’re supposed to represent our best interests, but it seems that once they grant these sweetheart multi-million dollar contracts, there is no oversight whatsoever by the County Commission. They just hand them a big check, a gun and a license to deprive people of their rights. I plan to attend an upcoming meeting to find out what they plan to do about this epidemic of physical and economic abuse against the citizens of Miami-Dade.
Florida statutes do not give licensed security guards any right to use force on a citizen unless they are either protecting themselves or somebody else.
However, that statute is frequently violated by 50 State security guards as we’ve seen in several of my run-ins with them as well as last year’s incident with the gospel-singing grandmother, a company made up mostly of ex-cops and veterans.
I haven’t ridden the train since my attack because I know the cops, paramedics, politicians and prosecutors will not protect me from the guards, who have learned they can attack whomever they want, whenever they want, and remain employed.
Below are videos from my January 2013 attack as well as three incidents from 2010. Obviously, nothing has changed.
Here are some phone numbers and emails:
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez: 305-375-5071
Miami-Dade Transit complaints: 305-891-3131
Ysela Llort, Director of Miami-Dade Transit: Email
Eric Muntan, Director of Security at Miami-Dade Transit: 305-375-5251
Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees the licensing of private security guards and companies: (850) 245-5499
Story continues below...
Want to support the investigative journalism you're reading on PhotographyisNotaCrime.com? Use this button to make a donation of any amount to "The PINAC Fund"
Please donate to The PINAC Fund a 501(c)3 charitable fund that supports our investigative journalism efforts. Once we reach 1000 subscribers, then we'll launch the ad free and premium version for subscribers!