Miami Police Beat, Threaten, Point Guns At, Arrest Citizen Videographer

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Carlos Miller has the details.

Miami Beach police did their best to destroy a citizen video that shows them shooting a man to death in a hail of bullets Memorial Day.

First, police pointed their guns at the man who shot the video, according to a Miami Herald interview with the videographer.

Then they ordered the man and his girlfriend out the car and threw them down to the ground, yelling “you want to be fucking paparazzi?”

Then they snatched the cell phone from his hand and slammed it to the ground before stomping on it. Then they placed the smashed phone in the videographer’s back pocket as he was laying down on the ground.

And finally, they took him to a mobile command center where they snapped his photo and demanded the phone again, then took him to police headquarters where they conducted a recorded interview with him before releasing him.

But what they didn’t know was that Narces Benoit had removed the SIM card and hid it in his mouth, which means the video survived.

Good for Benoit. Hiding the SIM card in his mouth was a ballsy move. More here from the Miami Herald.

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41 Responses to “Miami Police Beat, Threaten, Point Guns At, Arrest Citizen Videographer”

  1. #1 |  Mannie | 

    Commendations all around for the cops.

  2. #2 |  Al V | 

    The fact that they are smashing cameras instead of “seizing them for evidence” proves that they wanted no record found of what they did. The deceased may have been a robber and he may have been armed but indiscrimately spraying rounds up and down a street is a poor way of capturing a suspect.

  3. #3 |  qwints | 

    These sorts of efforts to destroy photos belie any sort of police claim to acting in the public interest. Even if they believe that recording them is a crime, the photographs are evidence of that crime and should be preserved.

  4. #4 |  Justin | 

    What a badass. This man is a hero.

  5. #5 |  Ken Hagler | 

    The Miami Herald link is not working. I guess the cops asked them if they wanted to be invited to a press conference ever again.

  6. #6 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    A modest proposal:
    If Florida gets any more corrupt, hand the shithole over to Cuba.

  7. #7 |  Tolly | 

    We’re spoon-fed the tired old line that cops are heroes in blue who deserve our deference and respect but the reality is that the majority of them now just seem like “tough on crime” thugs who will kick the door in, shoot, the dog or steal our money (through pension extortion or gouging us on the street). And the courts are just rubberstamping everything to the point where our only options are to lay down and take it or pray that they only pull out the taser. And when they’re caught in these lies, brutalizing or murdering the people they’re sworn to protect, they roll up in red tape and hide behind administrative tricks allowed by the law.

    As I got pulled over today for a chickenshit speeding ticket, stories like this are the only thing that pop into my head anymore. We had 4 cops die in this metro area in the past 6 months when they actually came up against a dangerous criminal and both times the police were woefully unprepared to deal with someone who was an actual danger. Of course then they come down twice as hard and even more of the abuses occur on the general population. God forbid you question it, cause then you’re some cop-killer lover and not a concerned citizen who’s tired of the boot on your neck and the hand in your pocket.

    Christ, has it always been like this or is it just the end result of the last two decades of brainless war-on-drugs kowtowing to authority?

  8. #8 |  Ken | 

    That would actually be the SD card, not the SIM card.

    The SIM card stores very little information — just your phone’s identity on the network, and perhaps your database of contacts. Video is recorded on an SD card.

    This underscores the importance of developing some kind of smartphone app that continuously uploads video to the Internet, where it cannot be deleted for at least a week. Developing such an app would enable bystanders to record video and audio in the knowledge that such evidence would be difficult to destroy, at least on the scene.

  9. #9 |  Justin Holmes | 

    There is such an app – Qik. It is very widely used by police watchers, and one of the main tools I teach about when I teach police watching skills.

  10. #10 |  Pablo | 

    I’m young enough to be hopeful that these cops will be charged with crimes. Kidnapping, armed robbery, property damage, and aggravated assault would be a good starts.

    I’m also old enough to be unsurprised when that does not happen.

  11. #11 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    One question: How does Benoit even manage to walk with such humongous balls?

  12. #12 |  Greg | 

    One question: How does Benoit even manage to walk with such humongous balls?

    Please see SouthPark, Season 14 Episode 3…

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s14e03-medicinal-fried-chicken

  13. #13 |  André | 

    Ah, more police misconduct. Paid vacation Administrative leave all around.

  14. #14 |  André | 

    Ah, more police misconduct. Paid vacation Administrative leave all around.

    Let’s see if this works.

  15. #15 |  David | 

    Some phones use a UICC card instead of a dedicated SIM (it includes the SIM hardware, but also storage space for other data). Maybe that’s what he had?

  16. #16 |  albatross | 

    So, if this same story happened in Syria or Libya, it seems like it might make the news here in the US–the footage of the shooting and the story of the brave guy who managed to hide the memory card from the armed goons who tried to destroy all evidence of what they’d been up to. I wonder what the odds are that it will become big, front-page news here in the US, though.

  17. #17 |  lunchstealer | 

    I demand that they have a 6 week paid vacation administrative leave, followed by an investigation that finds no wrongdoing! That’ll show ‘em how much this country respects civil rights!

  18. #18 |  Bob | 

    Jesus Christ, the police just fanned out and opened up on that car. Hitting bystanders and their own people in the process.

    My question is who fired the 4 shots while the car was driving just before it stopped? There’s no indication in the video that the shots came from the car. Did police fire at the car before it stopped?

  19. #19 |  Bergman | 

    It struck me as very odd that they would smash his camera, return it to him, then demand it again at the command post. Then I remembered something about command posts in Florida: They’ve got audio/video surveillance systems. The police were covering their asses on the surveillance system, a fancier version of a dash cam, by “proving” they had not yet seized the man’s camera. He still had it, after all, in his custody, not the police’s custody. So obviously the police didn’t smash it, since they never seized it; The man must have smashed it himself somehow to destroy evidence, or at worst (for the cops) it was simply an accident while restraining a violently resisting criminal.

    Re: qwints, #3: It really makes you wonder what evidence of what crime they are seeking to destroy by smashing the camera. As you said, destroying a camera/recording is destruction of evidence if photography is itself a crime. But more likely, they think the camera caught their crimes on film, and are trying to save their own asses by destroying evidence that they are in fact criminals, not police.

  20. #20 |  Tolly | 

    Exactly – that is not a routine traffic stop it’s a Bonnie and Clyde shoot out.

    Just seems like the deck is constantly stacked in favor of the cops – higher powered guns/vests/tanks; looser interpretation of sacrosanct laws to benefit PD violations; laws outlawing anything that interferes with their alpha superiority, etc. etc. And yet the second anything serious happens – like with the Pima raid, NYC shootouts and this altercation to name a few, its a wild west shootout. Can you image if a relative was murdered by a LEO stray round during a fiasco like this?

    Either PD recruitment is scraping the bottom of the barrel and attracting nothing but adrenaline junkies or they are only believing their own scare-tactics that every citizen is an unhinged druggie maniac with a cargo of narcotics and an arsenal of automatic weapons.

  21. #21 |  Roho | 

    Also, if one is using Dropbox, on most devices you can record pictures/video directly to that. Instead of launching the camera directly, you open the Dropbox app, and select ‘Add Video’ or ‘Add Picture’. It then launches the normal camera/video app, but the data is auto-synced to your Dropbox account online.

    Bonus feature, once you get them on tape threatening to beat/shoot you unless you delete the video, you can comply to their heart’s content. Then go back and un-delete it at your leisure later.

  22. #22 |  Zeb | 

    So the cop who destroyed the phone has been charged with destruction of property or something, right?

  23. #23 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “So the cop who destroyed the phone has been charged with destruction of property or something, right?”

    Yes, I just checked the docket. This is scheduled to occur right after
    Hell freezes over.

  24. #24 |  Aresen | 

    The only difference between this case and hundreds [thousands?] of others it that the cops did not succeed in destroying the evidence.

    Benoit might at least get a nice cash settlement out of it.

    I didn’t see any comments on the Miami Herald site. I was expecting to see a spittle-storm from badge lickers.

  25. #25 |  Pete | 

    This fucking bullshit. Police can bust into a house with weapons drawn and terrorize the shit out of the people in the house if they think evidence is being destroyed, right? (Or maybe I have that confused and they can’t)

    But regardless, we all agree police THINK they should be able to do that, if evidence is being destroyed, right?

    But then they’re so fucking fast to destroy evidence. With no repercussions.

    This will result in some ‘paid suspensions’ and some ‘retraining’, or as I like to call it, NOTHING. Absolutely no part of the end game in this incident will give these police the message that “this shit is not ok – don’t do that.”

    And that’s just fucking reprehensible. I’m so livid right now. I am a peon, a serf, I have no rights and no hope for fair treatment in this country if a policeman wrongs me, and given how they act, the odds that a policeman WILL wrong me if I have any kind of interaction with him are not at all insignificant.

  26. #26 |  fldoubleu | 

    #8 Ken June 6th, 2011 at 12:23 pm
    This underscores the importance of developing some kind of smartphone app that continuously uploads video to the Internet, where it cannot be deleted for at least a week. Developing such an app would enable bystanders to record video and audio in the knowledge that such evidence would be difficult to destroy, at least on the scene.

    …And so you shall have… http://qik.com/

  27. #27 |  Zargon | 

    Be sure to catch the follow-up where they find a few felonies to hit this guy with.

    Some version of “destruction/withholding of evidence” would be particularly hilarious.

  28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “you want to be fucking paparazzi?”

    I’d have a hard time not responding with “papa-paparazzi”.

    How dumb are the cops? First, stomping the phone is just destroying someone’s property. It has little chance of destroying the SD card. Doesn’t matter though. Video of a cop willfully breaking people’s shit just because STILL won’t get anything other than pats on the back.

    Rage-on you crazy fucking cops.

  29. #29 |  Deoxy | 

    These sorts of things will only end when the officers involved are punished instead of rewarded (paid administrative leave for months followed by being fully cleared is a reward, not a punishment).

    History shows that, if the superiors won’t punish the officers, eventually, the people will start KILLING the officers, usually indiscriminately (that is, killing the decent ones, which do exist, along with the corrupt/criminal ones).

    So, LEOs, you have two choices – start cleaning your house, or hope that you manage to retire before the people start cleaning it for you. How long the people put up with it is fairly random (from very short to decades)… will you keep rolling the dice?

  30. #30 |  supercat | 

    Is there any reason why the actions of police officers who confiscate and destroy people’s property without even a facially-valid reason do not constitute the crime of robbery (unlawful deprivation of property by force)?

  31. #31 |  Gordon | 

    #30 | supercat

    You know the score, pal; if you’re not cop, you’re “little people.”

  32. #32 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    all those cops opening up at once sounded like a couple full auto weapons. amazing they didn’t kill the entire street.

    while I do understand about the difference between popping caps at the range and firing in actual combat, I swear to Cthulu I wouldn’t have to squeeze off so many rounds.

  33. #33 |  JOR | 

    #30,

    Armed robbery at that. But in the real world, the law belongs to those that enforce it.

  34. #34 |  C.E. | 

    I’m really curious as to why people in the U.S. don’t react en masse to the rise in police power and demand change. I think it’s one or more of the following reasons:

    1. People really do think these are isolated incidents.
    2. People think that the victims of police abuse somehow deserve what happened to them.
    3. People aren’t paying attention.
    4. People are dealing with so many other problems that this just doesn’t seem like a priority right now.
    5. People think this is something that only happens to other people.
    6. People don’t know what to do about it, even if they want to do something.

    My guess is that the reasons are various, and there are probably others that I haven’t listed.

    Maybe someone in TV-land could do a TV special where they knock down each one of these. E.g., “These aren’t just isolated incidents, and here’s why. . . .”, “This could happen to you, and you have no remedy because . . . .”, “This is an important problem, because it strikes at the very heart of what a democracy is supposed to be, whether you’re conservative, liberal, libertarian, etc. . . .”

  35. #35 |  Bergman | 

    @supercat, #30:

    In theory, the police are members of the executive branch of government, charged with keeping the peace, enforcing the laws passed by the congressional branch, and delivering lawbreakers to the judicial branch for trial.

    In practice, police are treated as a member of the judicial branch. Humans are generally tribalists. They protect their tribe first, and all others after that, if at all. Citizens cannot press charges in most places, despite what Hollywood would have you believe. Mostly, citizens make formal complaints, then it’s up to the prosecutor (judicial branch) to decide what charges, if any charges at all, are pressed. But if a prosecutor views a cop as a member of the judicial “tribe”, and the citizen is some “foreigner”, the prosecutor will almost never side with the outsider, he’ll side with his tribe. And since it’s almost impossible to get a prosecutor arrested, let alone tried or convicted, and suing one in civil court is harder than getting a conviction of a prosecutor in criminal court, they’ll likely continue to side with their tribe, right or wrong (much like family will usually back family, right or wrong).

    So while by the strict letter of the law, cops are just as subject to being arrested, tried and convicted for crimes they commit, in practice, you’d have better odds of winning the lottery than getting most prosecutors to do what they swore an oath to do.

  36. #36 |  Can't say, clowns will eat me | 

    FYI, the HTC EVO doesn’t even have a SIM card as it’s a CDMA phone and those type of phones are incompatible with SIM cards. He clearly pulled the SD card. That being said, on an EVO doing that inconspicuously is nearly impossible. You have to pull the battery cover, then the battery, hit a button and then you basically need tweezers or something else to pull the SD card, so kudos to him on pulling that off without anyone noticing….

  37. #37 |  Wiregeek | 

    @36,

    Tweezers?

    Huh. I have a Desire, and I’ve never had a problem snatching the SD card out with my big ol’ meat paws.

    After I’ve removed the back and the battery (which damages the back of the phone – WTF, HTC?), of course.

    Regardless about nattering about removal methodology, I’d still like to buy Benoit a drink. Do they make Dr. Pepper in ‘Hero’ flavor?

  38. #38 |  albatross | 

    Deoxy #29:

    No, it doesn’t generally lead to people shooting at the cops. It generally leads to people avoiding the cops whenever possible. If you’re in a country where the cops are as likely to shake you down as take a statement, and where they’re also liable to smack you around if you catch them on a bad day, then you do everything you can to avoid coming to their attention. You don’t report crimes, you try to bribe your way out of any legal problems, you certainly never come forward as a witness or call the police because you see something suspicious, if you are a witness and the police want to take a statement, your only thought is “how do I get out of this with all my teeth and kidneys still intact” rather than “how can I help them catch the bad guys.”

    Talk to people who grew up someplace with seriously corrupt cops. Hell, talk to someone black who grew up in a rough neighborhood.

    Police abuses that used to be hidden are now coming out into the open. Thuggish demands that nobody videotape them, and that anyone with a camera on the scene of a shooting have their footage and cameras and phones destroyed, will not keep that from happening. Nor will cozy relationships with media sources, because the media gatekeepers are rapidly losing power to decide what will and won’t be news. If police departments and supervisors and unions keep tolerating thuggery on the part of the police, that will come out, more and more, until it’s part of everyone’s mental picture of what the police are. And then, the police in most places will simply be unable to count on anyone’s help. This will make the US a much worse place to live, but it’s the inevitable consequence of widespread abuse coming out, alongside a decades-long code of silence keeping it quiet. Go ask some non-pedophile Catholic priests how parents look at them these days.

    The only way to prevent that happening is to actually take overt, visible, consistent action to respond to police abuses. Cops who destroy evidence and get caught at it need, at a minimum, to have that end their career in law enforcement. Really, they need to be charged with a felony and face some actual jail time.

    I don’t think this will happen. Like the otherwise-decent priests who knew there were problems with pedophiles in the Church, but went along with keeping the problems quiet and covering for the pedophiles for reasons of tribalism and institutional inertia, otherwise-decent policemen and prosecutors and judges will continue letting this stuff slide, because standing up against it will be painful and hard and upsetting. So, instead, we’ll get more and more “isolated incidents” coming to light, until the common media narrative shifts and suddenly, the assumption is that police are corrupt and thuggish.

  39. #39 |  Mark | 

    Forget about robbery, I imagine it’s tough to get a local prosecutor to bring such charges against a local police officer. This is an unlawful seizure of property in violation of 4th amendment and I think people should start seeking federal charges for constitutional violations. When the state/local authorities fail to uphold their responsibility to act under the rule of law it is time to involve the Feds (I’m not picking on the South here just because this happened in Florida, I imagine a majority of states have similair problems, if not all).

    This may be viewed by some as ironic b/c federal $ and pressure to prosecute the war on drugs has contributed to abuses of power by local police forces, but that’s fine. The USFG isn’t monolithic and I hope the judiciary would respond to such clear abusive actions by the police.

  40. #40 |  The War on Cameras Continues | Cato @ Liberty | 

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