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Police Told to Arrest Innocent Blacks: Probe

Former Florida police chief faces federal charges
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2018 12:30 PM CDT
A black man gets arrested in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Need to pin a crime on someone? Just pick up a black person. That was allegedly the unwritten policy of Miami-area police who have been accused of civil-rights violations, the Miami Herald reports. According to charges in federal court, former chief Raimundo Atesiano and two officers of the Biscayne Park Police Department framed a black Haitian-American teenager with four unsolved burglaries—but perhaps that wasn't the only time. "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," says Anthony De La Torre, a cop who spoke to internal investigators. "They were basically doing this to have a 100% clearance rate for the city."

Only De La Torre mentioned black targeting, but a former local official who received letters from angry officers goes further. "The letters said police were doing a lot of bad things," explains ex-Biscayne Park village manager Heidi Shafran, who ordered the investigation. "It said police officers were directed to pick up people of color and blame the crimes on them." A report from the probe also found that command staff drank on the job and one captain regularly hurled sexist and racist insults. Atesiano, who quit amid the probe in 2014, denies all allegations and charges. Upon his departure, the department's burglary clearance rate abruptly fell from 29-out-of-30 over two years to none-out-of-19 in 2015. An indictment accuses Atesiano of using "this fictitious 100% clearance rate ... to gain favor with elected officials and concerned citizens," reports the Herald. (Read more Miami stories.)

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