The City of Miami Beach has settled a federal lawsuit brought by a gay man arrested for calling 911 after he observed two police officers beating a man on the ground near Flamingo Park.
In 2009, Harold Strickland was arrested after he had called to report two undercover officers kicking a handcuffed Hispanic man in a parking lot adjacent to the park. The officers used antigay epithets against Strickland, according to state attorney’s documents, after he was arrested on false charges of loitering and prowling.
â€œFor years, the ACLU has received reports about two systemic problems with the Miami Beach police: the harassment of gay men in and around Flamingo Park, and the retaliation against persons reporting police misconduct,â€ ACLU of Florida LGBT staff attorney Shelbi Day said in a Monday statement. â€œWe are hopeful that this settlement marks a turning point for the City of Miami Beach in seriously addressing these chronic problems.â€
As a result of the $75,000 settlement with Strickland, the Miami Beach Police Department will also expressly forbid â€œimproperly prohibiting or punishing a citizen from observing, documenting, or reporting a police officerâ€™s conduct [that] violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution” as part of its training instructions.
The two officers involved in the arrest were fired last week. Their attorney, Gene Gibbons,Â toldÂ theÂ Miami HeraldÂ that his clients had been â€œrailroadedâ€ by the city and that they had been dispatched to the park following neighborsâ€™ complaints of public sex.