« Gallery | Miami Beach Gay Pride committee meets on Saturday morning at Score nightclub on Lincoln Road | Main | Son to recall `forgotten years' of Josephine Baker Monday night at the World Erotic Art Museum »

Gay tourist: Two Miami Beach cops threatened, made up charge against me after I witnessed police beating

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Harold Stickland Harold Strickland says he lived in South Beach for seven years and never had a problem until he returned for a few days as a tourist in March.

But Strickland – who  says two Miami Beach police officers yelled antigay slurs and falsely accused him of a crime after he saw them beating a handcuffed man – now is afraid to return.

“I've been frightened to death to come back to Miami, because one of those guys threatened my life,'' Strickland said Friday from New York. “He said he could take me downtown and make me disappear.''

The ACLU of Florida on Wednesday announced plans to sue Miami Beach and police officers Frankly Forte and Elliot Hazzi.

A few hours before the March 13 incident, Strickland ate dinner on Lincoln Road, stopped at a gay club and then strolled alone to West Avenue for a look at his renovated former apartment.

On his way back to the Albion Hotel, Strickland approached Flamingo Park near 14th Street and Michigan Avenue, where he says he saw two guys beating a man and kicking him in the head like “a football.''

Strickland called 911, realizing as he described the beating that the two assailants – with guns, walkie-talkies and handcuffs – were undercover police.

For nearly five minutes, Strickland spoke with the dispatcher until he said the two men were “coming after me!''

DISCONNECTED

The men, later identified as Forte and Hazzi, approached Strickland and can be heard on the recording asking him why he is there, where he lives and if he has identification. Then the line went dead.

Strickland said the cops had no idea he was speaking with a 911 dispatcher when they grabbed his cellphone and disconnected the call.

“First I tried to explain myself,”' Strickland said, but the officers wouldn't listen.

Strickland called 911 at 1:06 a.m., according to dispatch records. Forte wrote in an arrest report that 30 minutes later – at  1:36 a.m. – he  saw Strickland trying to break into six cars near Flamingo Park.

The officers arrested Strickland for loitering or prowling but the charge later was dropped.

Strickland contacted the ACLU of Florida and returned to his home in Los Angeles a few days later.

“I haven't been back to Miami since, not because I don't want to, but because I'm afraid. The cops made it very clear to me that at any given time they could do whatever they wanted.''

REASSIGNED

Miami Beach police said Wednesday they have launched an internal affairs investigation and couldn't publicly discuss the case. A Fraternal Order of Police representative also said he couldn't comment.

Some gay residents demanded that Forte and Hazzi be taken off the streets and threatened a protest.

Police announced Thursday night the officers had been reassigned to desk duty.

Caption: Harold Strickland

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b26169e20120a86d0d54970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Gay tourist: Two Miami Beach cops threatened, made up charge against me after I witnessed police beating:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Have local glbt groups and media covered this?

Why is that whenever I click on a news story about a gay issue, the Herald sends me to a gay rights advocate's blog? Whatever happened to objective news reporting?

Talking about beach resorts, why look any further than Miami Beach?

Originally established in 1915, the city, located in the Miami-Dade County of Florida, changed its name to Miami Beach in 1917.

I was also attacked by Miami Beach Police while on vacation there. 3 officers went nuts on me just for walking from my car to the beach. The worst thing is that they went crazy when I told them I was gay... They started saying that they know what I am doing there They said "there are no females here, what are you doing here?" ...I was like, is this a prank?! so I told them that I was gay. Then they started spinning me around, pointing tazers in my face, and humiliating me every way they could. The male officers told the female officer to put hands in my underpants and told me not to look at what she was doing... They were so hyper and sarcastic it was sick... It lasted forever!!! When I asked where does it say that I can not walk here, they pointed at a sign and said:" haha, can't you see it says no sex with animals on the sign, hahaha" Then they threw me in the car where i almost suffocated, while they were standing outside and laughing and calling me a victim... then they repositioned the cars so it was blocking mine and told me " to get the F*** out of here" and never come back". They were standing there laughing while I tried to back out without scratching their cars. They changed me with an ordinance that doesn't exist at that location... the charge was dropped but these sadists are still working for the Miami Beach Police Department, and some of them even making comments on here and have facebook accounts...
The internal affairs are not helping...
It's not a gay issue, this can happen to anyone. People have a right to walk on the street or a park if there are no signs that prohibit access. People should not be harassed by the police just because they look gay... and even if there are ordinance signs, it doesn't mean they are constitutional since they are created by small biased governments like cities who also control police and receive revenues from citations! Even though the charges get dropped, I still had to pay lots of fees, so the City of Miami Beach can continue its war against people who look gay. The mayor should be ashamed, it went downhill ever since she started her term...

It's funny, I got the same threats from the officers. It's like they are instructed to scare people. They told me that they can do whatever they want and that they have more power then the president, etc. I am scared to come back as well. The officer at Miami Beach Internal Affairs told me that "I will regret about filing a complaint"... that is i do "the officers will not go easy on me next time", etc...

Very disgusting and corrupt jurisdiction, I don't know how they sleep at night. The officers who attacked me are Olivo, Vasilievich, and Hart or Aguilar.

oh... and I am definitely not going back to Miami! What disgusting homophobic place it became now. I can not recognize it at all, I can't believe I wanted to live there 6 years ago. Scary how neighborhoods can change like that...

the offiser i Ronnie Chapman

If you were ever attacked and/or abused by Miami Beach Police officers Rosa Olivo, Mirko Vasilievich, Joseph Hart, Sgt Caroline Chin, Sgt Rey Aguilar, contact FBI Color of Law http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/color_of_law
You pay these criminals $100K salaries while they abuse their power and are religiously corrupt. The MBPD Internal affairs process is corrupt and makes no sense... File a complaint, but don't waste your time with them.

If you can't afford an attorney, and most people can't, then file a complaint with the corrupt MBPD internal affairs, and go straight to the FBI! You will not get anything from the Internal Affairs since they are corrupt, but it will show FBI and DOJ that you tried and serious about it.

Carolyn Chin of MBPD's internal affairs is a corrupt investigator... just like the rest of them. The'openly gay' captain of this corrupt Internal Affairs unit, Jennifer Elmore, is acting as a facade to make it look as if the department is gay friendly. In reality these people are nothing but a well paid hypocrites and sell outs. The department remains one of the most brutal, over-financed corrupt organizations, where officers know that they can get away almost with almost anything thanks to the corrupt internal affairs investigations. So unless you have lots of money and can hire an expensive lawyer, this criminal taxpayer funded organization is impossible to beat. They hire corrupt minorities for a reason. MBPD employees love their money, benefits, and special legal protections more than being gay. There are people that will sell their identity for money and power... and most of them work in Miami Beach Police Department.

The comments to this entry are closed.