On December 30, New Times published a yearlong investigation showing local cops routinely broke department policy on Tasers: using the weapons on skateboarding teenagers, shocking the mentally ill, even killing 18-year-old graffiti artist Israel "Reefa" Hernandez. The most disturbing finding, however, was evidence that Miami Police Officer Vincent Miller had stunned a homeless man for no reason -- then covered it up.
Now New Times has found another case of cops allegedly covering up a questionable tasering. A South Florida teen says he was tasered by Miami-Dade Police while handcuffed in the back of a squad car.
"They were just doing it for shits and giggles," says Sammy Bromberg.
Warning: Images may be too graphic for some readers.
It all began with a bar fight on February 7, 2014.
Bromberg is a burly, beer-swigging, football-playing party bro from Broward County. So it wasn't out of character for the FIU student and some buddies to hit up Macumba Night Club on a Thursday evening. They drank a few brews inside the neon-bathed bar near Miami International Airport and then decided to split at around 3 a.m.
In the parking lot, however, Bromberg's friend Eric Finley began arguing with a stranger. When the two clashed, things suddenly went all Apocalypse Now.
"The kid bit his entire ear off," Bromberg says. "Not like Mike Tyson, just the earlobe. I'm talking about the entire ear... That is not human. You don't use your mouth."
As Finley screamed in pain, Bromberg entered the fray. "When you see your friend's ear get bit off, you're obviously not going to stay the calmest person," he says.
By the time police arrived, Bromberg had beaten the kid into submission. He says he put his hands in the air and began complying with cops' orders. According to a police report, however, Bromberg was "heavily intoxicated [and] inciting a large crowd by being belligerent."
When cops tried to arrest him, Bromberg allegedly began walking away. Cops "redirected" him to the ground. And when Bromberg continued struggling, Officer Roberto R. Miranda tasered him twice in the back.
Bromberg was then "taken into custody without further incident," according to Miranda's report, suffering only "minor irritation on his back."
Bromberg says his ordeal didn't end there, however. Instead, he says, he was tasered again as punishment for resting his head against a squad car window.
"Another officer opened the door, reached in, and tased me twice on the leg while I was in handcuffs in the police vehicle," he claims.
No such incident is mentioned in Officer Miranda's report. But Bromberg provided New Times with photos that appear to show identical sets of red Taser burns on both his back and legs.
Miami-Dade Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment. We will update this post as soon as they do.
Bromberg was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and public intoxication. After 35 hours in county jail, however, he was released and all charges were dropped.
His friend, Finley, wasn't so lucky. Doctors tried to reattach his ear, but after a couple of days, Finley's body rejected the tissue.
"The ear just died," Bromberg says. "It turned black on him."
Finley did not return a request for comment.
Bromberg escaped with a busted lip and a bruised collar bone from where he was put into a chokehold by cops. But the Tasering hurt most of all.
"I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy," he says.