These Are the Times That Try Men's Soles

Does the City of Miami Police Department have a foot fetish?

The incident that sparked John de Leon's complaint occurred on March 26. At about 12:30 a.m. Andy Hodge and a group of four friends returned to Hodge's house on NW 53rd Street in Liberty City. As Hodge prepared to go inside, a police car pulled up, emergency lights spinning. Later Off. John Yavneh would say he believed he had witnessed an earlier traffic violation.

The teenagers were ordered out of the car, where they were instructed to wait until backup units arrived. Hodge was told to spread his legs and place his hands on top of the car. He and the other teenagers were searched. Then Hodge was told to take off his shoes.

Here the record diverges slightly. According to the four police officers present at the scene, Hodge resisted. Depending on which officer tells the story, Hodge punched Officer Jones, or he began flailing his arms in an effort to get away. Hodge maintains he simply lost his balance while he was balancing on one foot, easing off his sneaker. All witnesses agree that Hodge fell to the ground in a tussle with Officer Jones and her partner, Off. Helene St. Ange. They concur that Officer Yavneh vaulted over the car and tackled Hodge. According to Hodge's friends, the "tackle" consisted of "stomping on his head."

Both Hodge and the two women officers sustained minor bruises. Hodge was booked into jail, where a small amount of cocaine wrapped in plastic baggies was discovered in the shoe he didn't remove.

This month Hodge, who had no prior police record, pleaded no contest to charges of possession of cocaine, resisting arrest with violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer. The judge withheld adjudication, so Hodge's record is still clean.

Back on 53rd Street, neither Hodge nor his friends find the incident particularly noteworthy. "They be beating on people for nothing," remarks one twenty-year-old, adding that neighborhood kids learn quickly not to protest when the police demand a body search: "They say, 'We gonna search you, and you gonna like it.'

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