A Miami police officer pulled a car over for speeding last month, which turned out to be a plainclothes internal affairs lieutenant who shoved the door open on the officer after refusing to provide his drivers license, leading to a struggle on the side of the road that was caught on camera.
As the two were on the ground wresting, another three Miami cops who just happened to be in the area pulled up and piled on the screaming driver– only to pull off when they realized the man at the bottom was an internal affairs lieutenant from their own department.
That was when the officer Marcel Jackson, the cop who initiated the stop, was sent to his patrol car and internal affairs Lieutenant David Ramras assumed control of the situation.
Realizing the outranking officer with more than two decades of seniority over him was going to turn him into the aggressor, Jackson pulled out his cell phone and began taking photos of the officers that began arriving.
But then a cop ordered him to stop. And another cop later ordered him to delete the photos.
However, unknowing to the other officers at the time, Jackson had video recorded the entire incident with his GoPro camera, which he had attached to his dash, but shoved in between seat after realizing they were turning against him, keeping it recording to capture the ensuing conversations. The department does not use dash or body cams, so it’s not something they would expect.
Adding to the usual irony of cops investigating cops, the department’s internal affairs department is now investigating the incident involving their own lieutenant, who has since been transferred to the special investigations section, a top-secret unit that works in partnership with state and federal agencies, considered a promotion by officers in the department, even though it is technically a lateral transfer.
The video was leaked to the Crespogram Report, a Miami blog operated by Al Crespo that regularly breaks insider stories that otherwise would not see the light of day, many which are followed by the local media.
Crespo, who is profiled in my book on citizen journalism, has spoken to sources from the department and explains the issue began when Ramras condescendingly asked Jackson a question about his physical appearance:
My sources tell me that Ramras conceded that he had indeed asked Jackson, “what’s that on your face.” Many African-American men have a problem shaving because of “skin bumps” caused by ingrown facial hair, and it’s a recognized medical problem that allows police officers not to shave with a letter from a doctor.
Crespo also explains that he has not spoken to Jackson nor did Jackson leak him the video. Rather, it was leaked by sources wanting to protect Jackson from getting wrongly terminated.
To try and protect himself even more, I have been told that Jackson put a call in to the State Attorney’s Office, seeking guidance and approval for an arrest, and in the course of the conversation revealed to them that he had recorded the entire incident on a dash cam.
Jackson was then ordered to go to IA and give a statement. During the course of that interview, which some believe was the prelude to relieving Jackson from duty, the folks in IA discovered the existence of the dash cam and the video tape.
Jackson was asked to voluntarily turn over the tape, refused, and was eventually ordered to do so under the claim that it was evidence in a criminal investigation.
My sources tell me that as a result of the way in which this investigation has been handled so far there was never a Use Of Force Report, a traffic citation against Ramras for speeding, or an Arrest Report written, and that no Warrant issued.
Ramras has supposedly been transferred laterally from IA to SIS, which some people actually consider a promotion of sorts, and he was provided an attorney by the FOP.
Jackson so far remains on patrol, and went out and got his own lawyer, because even though the video tape clearly shows that Ramras was the aggressor in his efforts to get out of his car, Jackson as the low man on the totem pole is believed to be the one who stands the best chance of actually being punished over this incident.
It’s just another example of how the Family & Friends Plan works in the Banana Republic of Miami.
In the video, which is posted below, Jackson sits in his car after the incident and can be heard calling a guy named “Rick,” who apparently is another officer, perhaps a supervisor, telling him the story of how the driver flashed a badge, asked what was on his face, then pushed the door open on him.
He’s running around trying to pull muscle and rank, but I’m telling him, sir, you can’t do that.
He’s telling me, get the fuck in your car.
I was like, what, who are you talking to?
I said, sir, license, registration and insurance. Just like any 19 I’ve ever done in my life, dude.
And this guy just jumps down my throat. And I’m like, Ok, He didn’t give me a chance to say what I pulled him over for.
I thought I was going to shoot this man … cause I didn’t know if he was armed, whether he is a police or not, I didn’t know if he was going to pull out a weapon.
Jackson tells Rick that another internal affairs officer has shown up to the scene, one who has written him up before. In fact, Jackson was suspended without pay for 80 hours back in 2008 when he failed to report a use of force incident, which is a whopping amount of time considering cops routinely get nothing more than paid administrative leave.
The complainant, James Farley stated that he was at 3110 Elizabeth Street, Miami, FL 33127 on December 8th, 2007, when Officer Marcel Jackson arrested him without cause. It was further alleged by Mr. Farley that Officer Jackson handcuffed him and threw him to the ground. Mr. Farley fell face forward and his chest landed on some rocks. Officer Jackson used expletives during the arrest and instructed Mr. Farley to “shut up”. Mr. Farley indicated that several times he complained of the handcuffs being to tight, which resulted in bruising to his wrist however, Officer Jackson failed to adjust the handcuffs. Sergeant Rolando E. Davis and Sergeant Nelson Cruz of Internal Affairs conducted an investigation and rendered a finding of Inconclusive regarding the allegations of Abusive Treatment and Discourtesy. However, during the course of the Internal Affairs investigation the allegation of Misconduct was added to the complaint in light of Officer Jackson failing to report his Use of Force during Mr. Farley’s arrest. The allegation of Misconduct against Officer Jackson was Substantiated by Internal Affairs and an 80- hour suspension without pay was imposed.
Crespo posted three videos; one of the altercation, the other of the conversation and the other of the entire incident. All three are posted below. The extended video also captures the conversation between Jackson and Javier Ortiz, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, which also represents Ramras.
In the extended video, Ramras speeds past Jackson at 8:11 and is pulled over about a minute later with the altercation just before 10:00 into the video.
“Get the fuck off me,” Ramras screams from beneath the pile, which is ironic considering how many cops he must have exonerated for doing the same to other citizens.
“Do you know who the fuck I am?” Ramras screams at Jackson after he stands up.
“No, I don’t,” Jackson responds.
“I showed you ID,” Ramras yells.
But Jackson told Rick that Ramras did nothing more than flash a badge while he was insisting for license, registration and proof of insurance.
You would think an internal affairs lieutenant would appreciate a cop doing things by the book.
But this is a lieutenant who sped right past the cop’s patrol car and continued speeding for a minute even as the patrol car began following him, evidently expecting his badge to get him out of a ticket.
So it’s understandable why at 21:30 in the video, Jackson places the camera between the seats where it goes dark even though it continues recording audio. And the conversation with Rick begins at 23:43 and lasts until 29:10 when he tells Rick he is going to step out to take photos.
Within a minute, he is being ordered to stop taking photos because he is “making things worse.”
“I’m not making anything worse,” he says. “I can take pictures.”
The cop tells him he cant because there is an undercover cop car involved as if that’s supposed to make a difference.
“It’s on public display. I can take pictures of whatever is in public,” Jackson says.
“We’re not going to allow that shit to happen here,” the unseen cop tells him. “Put your phone away and relax. Go sit in your car now.”
Later, a cop walks up to his car and demands an explanation.
“All I’m doing is taking pictures.”
“Yeah, and you’re testing.”
“I’m not testing. I’m documenting. All those people are in cahoots. That’s why I’m taking pictures.”
Minutes later, union president Ortiz walks up:
“I don’t know what the fuck is going on. I understand what he did did, but right now as you can see, it’s you against the fucking world because of who it is, so we’re going to get the attorney here and we’re going to figure out how we’re going to handle this. I don’t think we’re just going to let this go or anything, you know.
“I’m not going to let it go. I was insulted,” Jackson says.
“You were insulted. You were battered,” Ortiz says.
At 41:50, Ortiz walks back to Jackson’s car and tells him to delete the photo, but Jackson is reluctant to do so.
“I’m just telling you. Just say yes, I don’t care,” Ortiz tells him, letting him know that he won’t push the matter if he just verbally agrees to do so.
“I will,” Jackson says.
“Thank you very much,” Ortiz says.
Ortiz then comes back and tells Jackson that he got into some type of dispute with Ramras a week earlier, so these are clearly dysfunctional people in a dysfunctional department, but that’s the way it’s always been.
Crespo also reports that just last week, Chief Manual Orosa sent out a memo to officers advising about the benefits of body-mounted cameras, so perhaps the department will start issuing them to officers some day.
But if you look at the department’s history of corruption, abuse and ineptness, you can understand why they have never seriously considered issuing cameras to officers. This is the department, after all, that led to the creation of this blog after they arrested me for taking photos in 2007; those camera shy officers permanently honored in the PINAC header photo.
Last month’s incident is being discussed by Miami police officers on LEO Affairs.
Jackson is as militant as they come. And Ramres is an arrogant asshole. That’s a bad mix. Jackson definitely knew who he was. He just picked the wrong battle. He’s gonna lose in the long run. This administration is good at covering shit up.
But they’re not going to cover this one up, no matter what they end up doing to Jackson.
UPDATE: So apparently they relieved Jackson of duty on Friday, according to officers on LEO Affairs. Today, the local stations will no doubt be on the story (you would hope anyway) and maybe get a statement from the Miami Police Department.
They will probably claim he has been the subject of too many internal affairs investigations, and maybe that was the case, but now everybody will see that internal affairs has no credibility.