By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Bazail, who says he had consumed only two beers that night, was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer and resisting arrest with violence. Bloodied and bruised, he spent several miserable hours in jail shirtless and coated with pepper spray.
In response to the internal-affairs investigation of Bazail's complaint, Officer Ealey offered a very different account. He wrote that Bazail refused to be arrested and pushed him. Ealey called for assistance and the head of the club's security team, Nick Caprio, came over and "punched [the] offender, causing a laceration above his right eye. Offender continued to resist at which time he was [pepper]-sprayed and handcuffed." Other officers at the scene confirmed Ealey's version of events, as did club security employees.
Bazail says he didn't see any bouncers beating him, only cops. "I think that's a flat-out lie," he scoffs while reading the internal-affairs file for the first time. Bazail adds that he later took a plea deal that kept him out of jail; he was afraid the cops would lie in court if his case went to trial. "This has totally destroyed me," he fumes. (Adjudication was withheld; Bazail received probation and had to take an anger-management course.)
While the story comes down to Bazail's word against the police, the details of his tale are disconcertingly similar to other complaints received by the Miami Police Department. This past June 17 police arrested a 32-year-old Brazilian man outside Club Space, charging him with resisting arrest without violence and disorderly intoxication. He spoke with New Times but asked that his name not be revealed because it could cause problems with his employer. He filed a complaint, along with his friends -- attorneys Charles Mantei and Mayra Gonzalez -- alleging that he was roughed up by police during his arrest.
Gonzalez, Mantei, and the Brazilian all say they and two other friends arrived at Club Space at roughly 3:30 that Sunday morning to find a long line at the door. Gonzalez assured them they were on the guest list. The Brazilian man, a slight figure of five feet eight inches and 160 pounds, walked to the door to inquire about the guest list. He says Sergeant Kowalski rudely told him there was no guest list and he wasn't getting in the club. A brief argument ensued, which ended with the man saying, "I don't need to be in this fucking place anyway." He returned to his friends, and they all began walking west on NE Eleventh Street toward Mantei's nearby apartment. The group had passed the officers at the door and was perhaps 50 yards away, according to Mantei, when Ofcr. José Rojas ran after them and jumped the Brazilian man from behind.
Mantei's friend struggled at first, not realizing the person on his back was a cop. Rojas pushed him to the ground and twisted his arm behind his back, Mantei says. His face was bleeding, so Rojas picked him up and walked him down the street and made him lie on the ground. Then, according to Mantei and other witnesses, Ofcr. Jackie Jesurum put her knee on his back to keep him down and mashed his face into a sewer grate. "I said, “I'm his attorney,'" Mantei recalls. "I got down there on the ground with him, and the female officer took his hair and pounded his head against the grate. She said [to Mantei], “Get the fuck out of my face!' There was blood everywhere. It was one of the worst things ever."
Kowalski, Mantei contends, insulted him as he was trying to get police badge numbers: "He called me stupid and said he knew I was going to jail by the end of the night." Mantei says his friend had been drinking earlier that night at a party but he was not roaring drunk.
Again police put forth a different version of events. Officer Rojas wrote that the Brazilian man had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and an odor of alcohol about him. "Defendant was told numerous times by this officer to clear the street for his own safety. Def. refused to clear the street. Def. was arrested." As to the injuries sustained by the man, Rojas explained that he began swinging his arms and resisting arrest, so Rojas had to take him down, "whereupon defendant obtained a small laceration on his forehead."
This explanation satisfied internal-affairs investigators. The arrested man, however, showed New Times photographs he claims were taken shortly after the incident. The pictures show him in a torn and bloody shirt with several cuts on his face and neck, one of which he says has formed a scar.
On August 13, 2001, a woman and her husband were standing in line outside Club Space around 7:30 a.m. and watched as a man was punched and kicked by several police officers. The woman, a 29-year-old attorney who asked that her name not be revealed because she fears retaliation by police, provided New Times with a vivid account of what she saw. She also contacted an assistant state attorney, who asked police internal-affairs investigators to look into the incident. But neither the woman nor Rick Marabini, the 38-year-old Weston man arrested, filed a formal complaint with the police. "What are they afraid of?" asks an exasperated Lt. Jorge Perez, who works in internal affairs.