The ACLU of Florida has filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami Beach and two police officers [pdf]. The group is suing on behalf of Harold Strickland, an openly gay man who called 911 to report two police officers beating and kicking a suspect who was already handcuffed and laying on the ground near a public park. Strickland was arrested in retaliation by officers trying to cover up the police brutality.
"For years the ACLU has received reports that Miami Beach police have targeted gay men near Flamingo Park for nothing more than being gay," said Shelbi Day, an attorney with the ACLU of Florida's LGBT Advocacy Project. "When the police become the problem rather than part of the solution, the entire community suffers. It is time for the City to end the discriminatory policies and practices of its police force."
The complaint alleges that the City and arresting officers, Frankly Forte and Elliot Hazzi, violated Strickland's rights under federal and state law. Specifically, the complaint seeks damages for violation of Strickland's First and Fourth Amendment rights and false arrest. The evidence, including the officers' sworn deposition testimony, the tape recording of Strickland's 911 call [mp3], Strickland's cell phone record, and the officers' own arrest affidavits [pdf], indicates that the officers lied in their report of the incident in order to cover-up their misconduct. Strickland was charged with "loitering and prowling."
Strickland was arrested in March of 2009. The two officers were assigned to desk duty pending the results of an internal investigation, but even after all this time, the investigation remains open and the officers have not been punished.