Body-Cam Footage of Disabled Arrest: "Don't Make Me Come Over There and Roll You!"

Mary Luis Brown, a disabled woman missing both her legs, was caught panhandling for a single dollar at a Chevron gas station this past Saturday when two Miami-Dade Police officers tried to arrest her. Thanks to a bystander's footage of two cops handcuffing her and dropping her to the ground, that confrontation went viral.

Now, new body-camera footage released by MDPD raises more questions about how the officers handled the situation. Before the rough handcuffing incident, the footage shows that Brown was calmly trying to roll herself away from the officers when one of them shouted, "Don't make me come over there and roll you!" before grabbing the back of her wheelchair and forcing her back to the cops' squad car.

The 13-minute altercation — in which the officers repeatedly accused the frail woman of attacking them — reveals what is basically a clinic in bad police work. In the footage, the cops also "order" a man to stop filming them from the street despite the fact that he has a clear constitutional right to record them in public. The officers said he would either need to leave and stop filming or face "loitering" charges.

The clips also illustrate many of the issues that disabled, indigent, and mentally ill citizens face when dealing with poorly trained police. Situations like Brown's sometimes turn deadly: Arrests for similarly small crimes such as selling loose cigarettes or bootleg CDs led to the infamous deaths of police brutality victims Eric Garner and Alton Sterling.

The department released two separate clips yesterday. In the first video, one of the officers involved shouts across the parking lot at Brown, accusing her of taking a single dollar from a woman at the gas station. The cops said Brown had been warned not to return but had ignored their orders.

As the officers paced slowly toward her, Brown wheeled away, prompting one of the cops to demand that she stop moving.

"Where are you  going?" one cop asked.

"I'm not bothering nobody," Brown replied, continuing to move away from the scene.

"Nah, nah, nah, nah," the cop replied. "Over here. Don't make me come over there and roll you."

Throughout the first clip, the cops do little to calm the situation. While she acts uncooperative, the officers scream at her and insult her.

After Brown refused to head back to the squad car, the cops grabbed her wheelchair (3:30 mark in the first clip) and forcibly rolled her back to their vehicle. The officers then opened the car door and demanded she get inside — to which Brown slammed the door and said she wasn't going to jail.

"Get in that car, or we're going to put you in that car. What's it going to be?" the cop said. He then threatened her with more jail time.

"We're going to add another charge!" he said. "You're going to be in there forever instead of getting out tonight."

The cops then moved to handcuff Brown (around 7:10 in the first video). She pulled her hand back in possibly an attempt to swing at one of the cops; the officers responded by shoving her head down into the wheelchair before cuffing her and letting go of her arms.

She then fell to the ground, where she was left for several minutes.

In the meantime, the cops then zeroed in on a civilian they noticed was filming them. The man was at least ten feet from them and posed no threat. Despite the fact that civilians have a clear right to film police officers in public, the cops demanded (around 9:00 in the clip) that he stop filming and leave.

"Whenever you're ready, you can keep walking if you're not buying anything, OK?" the cop said. The officer then pointed to his body camera. "I got the videotape already right here."

Oddly, the video stops minutes later, and the next clip begins after paramedics arrived. The sound doesn't kick in for the first 30 seconds; it's impossible to hear what orders the medical team gave the police. But by then, Brown was upright and crying:

"You made me look like a complete fool out here," Brown said. "You all made me feel like y'all was [unintelligible] on me, and I was trying to defend myself. How the hell can I deal with y'all with no legs? And now I can't even use my hands."

The cop replied by sarcastically asking, "Do you want the cuffs off or not?"

After Brown was placed on a stretcher, the video ends.

In an atypical move for police brutality cases, an MDPD spokesperson Wednesday admitted the officers involved acted improperly. Yesterday, MDPD Director Juan Perez issued an additional statement and said the department would do its best to make sure its officers understand how to deal with disabled people from now on.

“I have taken a personal interest in the video regarding the arrest of a disabled woman in South Miami-Dade," Perez said. "As a result, I've directed staff to contact organizations for disabled persons, to ensure our officers are utilizing current best practices when dealing with individuals requiring special assistance. Although this discretionary arrest was appropriate, it's important that we continue to work with our community and social service agencies in identifying alternatives to arrest that can provide meaningful assistance to those in need while addressing the quality-of-life concerns of our residents and businesses."

Before the two cops handcuffed her, Brown presciently said they would end up "in the newspaper." The officers responded with laughter.


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