Miami cops turned off body cams during arrest of "known agitator" for Gov. DeSantis
The Miami-Dade Police Department still hasn't turned over the full records despite a lawsuit to compel their release.
New videos show the arresting county police officer in Miami who carried out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ plan to arrest a “known agitator” for trying to attend his public meeting last month turned off his body cameras while making the arrest.
The Miami-Dade Police Department’s policy on body worn cameras clearly says, “Once the BWC is turned on, officers will continue to record until the conclusion of the event.”
Officer A. Herrera detained Democratic National Committee member Thomas Kennedy in the parking lot near an April 8th public meeting at the Port of Miami with the governor, state attorney general, and other public officials.
He used the on-off switch like an edit button.
In total, Herrera’s interactions with Kennedy lasted 11 minutes, but because of his on-scene editing, he only captured 9 minutes of footage.
Of that footage, nearly 6 minutes had no audio.
Thus far department public records officials have only released three body camera video records in response to the lawsuit I filed on May 7th. They are promising radio transcripts and audio files today and by next week emails and text messages.
Officer Herrera’s body camera recordings show that he specifically articulated Kennedy was being “detained” soon after he directed to the scene by two other officers to make the arrest.
But when Herrera got back in his car, he contacted Sergeant Juan Valdes, listed in the police report as the liaison to FDLE.
If he wanted to avoid recorded by police radios, then calling Valdes on his cellphone - as the below video screenshot indicates - could do the trick.
A department spokesman said that the Axon body cameras have an audio recording delay of 30-60 seconds, which is evident from the recordings of Kennedy’s detention.
Conveniently, the recording was muted during that time when a call could have been made.
Because we have not yet received the radio chatter and its transcripts, we really don’t know what the officers were discussing when they dispatched a patrolman to detain Kennedy and give him a formal trespass warning.
Thomas Kennedy looks at Miami-Dade officer Herrera while an unidentified officer looks on.
Herrera did not follow department policy on body worn cameras
But we do know that the arresting officer totally disregarded or evaded the body camera policy on the arrest.
The policy’s section on “Prohibited Conduct” cites the police accreditation body CALEA’s manual as its source and notes:
Employees will not use any other electronic devices, or other means, in order to intentionally interfere with the capabilities of the BWC. (author’s emphasis)
Miami-Dade Police Department body-worn camera policy clearly states:
“Officers will place the BWC in the "Record Mode" and continue recording until the conclusion of the event under the following circumstances: 1. Upon being dispatched or responding to a call for service as the primary or back-up unit. 2. Before engaging in any field activity.”
There are a couple of exemptions, but none were deployed here.
If an officer does need to go onto “Mute Mode” they are supposed to state their reasons on camera.
In all instances, Miami-Dade Police officers are required to make a written report to their supervisor when they do turn off a body camera during an incident.
Because the department still hasn’t produced emails over forty days after the incident and initial public records request, and after a lawsuit to obtain the records, we still don’t know why Officer Herrera turned off his body camera while arresting Thomas Kennedy.
But we do know from the Florida Governor’s office that they singled out Kennedy intentionally and he believes a public meeting between cabinet members he and Attorney General Ashley Moody with media and the public present on public property using his official regalia of office was somehow just a “private event.”
Here’s the video: