For the third time in five years, I’ll be stepping into a courtroom where prosecutors will try to prove my guilt for taking photos on a public street.
But this time, I have video evidence to prove my innocence; video evidence that police tried to destroy but I managed to recover.
Yet, I am the one who was initially accused of obstructing justice.
The situation would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that I am facing a year in jail if convicted.
But I am confident that is not going to happen because the burden of proof falls on them and they have one hell of a burden on their hands in this case.
My trial is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Courtroom 6-6 at the Justice Building, 1351 N.W. 12 St.
Presiding over my trial is Judge Edward Newman, a former Miami Dolphin player who is well-respected in this community and comes across much more impartial than Judge Jose Fernandez, the judge presiding over my first trial in which I was convicted of resisting arrest.
I appealed that conviction pro se and had it overturned when I proved that Fernandez, a former police union attorney, displayed bias against me in allowing improper evidence against me in the trial as well as handing me a harsher sentence because he was “shocked” at my lack of remorse.
I won’t hesitate to appeal again if I do end up convicted tomorrow.
I also plan to bring in a videographer to record the trial as is permitted under Florida law. I’ve already talked to the court about this, so I’m expecting no hassle about that, but we’ll see what happens.
Here’s a recap of my case:
Miami-Dade police arrested me on January 31 as I covered the Occupy Miami eviction. I was initially charged me with obstructing justice and resisting arrest without violence, but the charge was reduced to resisting arrest when police failed to write the statute number for obstruction justice in my arrest report.
I spent the night in jail as I’ve done on two previous occasions and was released the following morning where I drove to a police precinct to pick up my cameras.
When I arrived home, I discovered the last video clip I had shot that night, the one that would have recorded my arrest, was missing. I ran a recovery program called PhotoRec and managed to recover it a few days later.
The video is pretty damning for police because it shows I was singled out among other journalists by Major Nancy Perez, who happens to be the head of the public information office, meaning it is her role to ensure journalists don’t get arrested (no other cops threatened me with arrest that night).
In fact, Miami-Dade police did an excellent job of evicting the activists without making a single arrest other than myself, even though six activists had purposely set out to be arrested by refusing to move from the campsite (City of Miami police made five arrests).
Perez also makes some blatant sexist remarks to me on the video when I tell them they didn’t have to rip the cameras off my body so hard because I was not resisting any part of the arrest.
She later told my attorney is a deposition that she had no idea I was a journalist, even though I had covered the movement on Miami Beach 411 for months before the eviction and it is her responsibility as a public information officer to keep up with local media reports involving her police department.
But even more damning was the revelation through a public records request that she received an email from the department’s Homeland Security Bureau 11 hours before my arrest that I would be covering the protest.
The email was sent to various officers, including Perez, with the subject heading, “Multimedia Information/Situational Awareness” and it contained my Facebook profile photo, which is the same as my Pixiq profile photo and it stated the following:
Carlos Miller is a Miami multimedia journalist who has been arrested twice for taking pictures of law enforcement. He has publicly posted on social networks that he will be taking pictures today in order to document the eviction.
So even though she claimed she was under the impression that I was an activist that had failed to disperse under police order, she received an email confirming I am a journalist who would be documenting the eviction.
When asked by America Teve why the department’s Homeland Security Bureau felt the need to monitor my Facebook page if all I do is run a blog, Perez stated that it was because I had been making “threats” on the internet, which is complete hogwash and probably grounds for a slander lawsuit.
I’ve been very open about my intentions of filing a lawsuit on the grounds of unlawful arrest as well as spoliation of evidence, especially considering that had I not recovered the deleted video, my chances of winning this trial would be much slimmer.
So one of the first things prosecutors offered was to drop the charge against me in exchange of me not filing a lawsuit, which I refused.
Then they offered to drop the charge in exchange of me producing a promotional video for the county, which I also refused.
Their offer is a little ironic considering their main strategy against me in trial tomorrow will be that I was not working as a journalist as we revealed through another public records request.
But their definition of a journalist is one who works for the corporate media and was embedded with the police department the night of the Occupy Miami eviction. Some of these embedded journalists were even given little army helmets to protect them from the evil occupiers.
Perez told my attorney in a deposition that she doesn’t consider blogs to be “relevant to the community,” which shows just how out of touch she is with New Media.
Just because I choose to remain independent after spending many years working for the mainstream corporate media, doesn’t make me any less of a journalist than those who feel the need to don army helmets.
And it certainly shouldn’t make me more susceptible to arrest by a police public information officer who also feels the need to wear an army helmet.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the “donate” button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
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