Probe found Fla. police chief told officers to pin unsolved crimes on random black people: report

Probe found Fla. police chief told officers to pin unsolved crimes on random black people: report
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The police chief in a small Florida town is accused of encouraging his officers to pin unsolved crimes on random, nearby black people so the department would have a better arrest record, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.

Former Biscayne Park Chief Raimundo Atesiano and two officers, Raul Fernandez and Charlie Dayoub, have been charged with falsely accusing a black Haitian-American teenager — identified as T.D. — with burglaries to impress local officials in the village north of Miami Shores.

All have pleaded not guilty to the accusations. A trial date is set for later this month.

The charges were part of a long history of targeting random people to achieve a spotless crime-solving record before an internal investigation in 2014, the Herald reported.

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“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” Officer Anthony De La Torre said as part the probe. “They were basically doing this to have a 100 percent clearance rate for the city.”

Four officers — a third of the tiny, 12-man force — admitted to an outside investigator that they felt pressured to file inaccurate charges.

De La Torre is the only one that mentioned targeting black people, but former Biscayne Park village manager Heidi Shafran told the newspaper that the orders given to officers were clear. 

“The letters said police were doing a lot of bad things,” Shafran said. “It said police officers were directed to pick up people of color and blame the crimes on them.”

Atesiano abruptly resigned during the investigation in 2014 after a two-year tenure with a impressive crime stats. Only one of their 30 burglary cases had been unsolved, including 19 from 2013, the department boasted.

The year after his departure, not a single burglary case out of 19 was solved, the Herald noted.

T.D, a teenager who had several previous run-ins with the cops, was charged with four previously unsolved burglaries.

The report cited no witnesses, fingerprints, evidence, confessions or production of stolen property, the Herald noted.

The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office later dismissed all the charges against T.D., including previous accusations of fleeing and eluding the scene of a crime and those related to a rape case. 

He was never formally charged with any crime.

Atestiano and Capt. Lawrence Churchman, who has not been indicted with a crime, both denied pressuring cops to make unwarranted arrests.

“Encouraging, or even demanding, that public employees raise their performance levels to meet the citizens’ expectations is not an invitation for those public employees to cut corners or falsify documents,” Atestiano’s defense attorney, Richard Docobo, told the Herald.

Churchman is accused of regularly making racist and sexist comments.

“The captain has said on several different occasions he doesn’t want any n-----s, f-----s or women bitches working at Biscayne Park,” officer Thomas Harrison told the investigator.

Churchman was suspended during the investigation and officially left the department in 2014.

In a statement to the Herald, he said it wasn’t his responsibility to handle burglary cases or crime statistics.

“It is ridiculous to believe that I would encourage sworn officers to falsify crime reports and to pin crimes on innocent people when clearing crimes was not my responsibility,” Churchman said.