Cop uses own GoPro to film traffic stop of lieutenant, suspended

A Miami police officer makes a routine traffic stop. He discovers it's a man of superior rank. A fight ensues. He's suspended. The lieutenant is merely reassigned.

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This doesn't look good. ABC10 screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In Miami, normal goes unnoticed, because the quirky and occasionally quite mad occurs a little too often.

This applies even to cases of law, as baroque notions seem to predominate with a seductive regularity.

So here we have the story of a police officer, Marcel Jackson, pulling over a driver. According to ABC10, he said the driver was speeding and wouldn't pull over when Jackson first tried to stop him.

Footage shows Jackson walk up to the car. It also shows the gentleman inside open the door with the intention of getting out. What follows is a scuffle, in which Jackson manhandles the driver to the ground and other officers arrive to help.

The footage, you're thinking, must have come from Jackson's police dash-cam. Ah, no. For reasons yet unclear, Jackson had his own GoPro mounted on the dashboard.

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This story has a difficult twist because the man whom Jackson mixed it up with was Lieutenant David Ramras, who happened to work in Internal Affairs.

Oh.

According to the ABC10 report, when Jackson realized whom he'd manhandled, he took the GoPro away from the dashboard, but carried on recording the sound.

He is heard talking to another man and saying: "I thought I was going to shoot this man."

He claims that Ramras swore at him and told him to get back into his squad car.

Still, not only did Jackson use a GoPro (and how did that footage reach the media?) he also allegedly took pictures with his cell phone.

You might imagine, though, that two officers fighting would just shake hands and confess to a mutual misunderstanding. Instead, Ramras was reassigned and Jackson suspended with pay.

The Crespogram blog, which first reported on the peculiar altercation, is fascinated by the fact that Miami's police chief, Manny Orosa, felt the need to make an official statement on the case.

In it, he says that Ramras was only speeding 9mph over the limit. Moreover, Orosa insisted Jackson was suspended because of his GoPro.

His statement read: "You see it came to our attention that he was recording many of his traffic stops with citizens and the police department had no knowledge of that. A citizen has the right to request those recordings to prove their innocence. The department could be found in violation of the State Public Records Retention laws because of Jackson's actions."

Many police departments are considering body cameras for their officers. Orosa said that when the police department wanted to perform a study on the cameras, Jackson refused to participate.

Jackson's attorney, Scott Srebnick replied with a statement that says Orosa is "vilifying" Jackson. Moreover, he said that no evidence was presented as to how often Jackson used his GoPro to film himself in the line of duty.

He added: "If Chief Orosa intends to discipline Officer Jackson for use of his personal GoPro camera, he better be prepared to discipline the 1,100 City of Miami police officers who, in good faith, routinely use their mobile phones to take photographs while on duty and do not turn those photos over to the records department."

Some police officers have often felt uncomfortable when members of the public use cell phones to film them doing their work. Who could forget the San Diego officer who described a Samsung Galaxy as a "weapon"?

Here, though, it is one officer's word against another's. Oh, and against video evidence from a personal camera.

This might get ugly. Things in Miami sometimes do.

 

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