On March 8, an Uber driver named Sergio Morales pulled over at 729 SW First Street at 2:30 a.m. to pick up a customer when Miami Police Department Officer Daniel Crocker rapped on the window. When the driver asked Crocker if he was a cop or a security guard, he says, the cop threatened to arrest him. That's when Morales pulled out his phone to record the conversation and things really went to hell.
Crocker ended up taking the driver's phone, never giving it back, and arresting the Uber driver for resisting an officer and refusal to obey police commands, charges that were quickly dropped. That's what the Civilian Investigative Panel, an independent body that considers police complaints, found when they looked into Morales' complaints. While MPD's internal affairs unit said there wasn't enough evidence to show Crocker stole the phone, the CIP said the case was clear — and recommended sustaining the charge against the cop.
The case shows, yet again, that some Miami-area officers have a serious issue with being recorded on-duty: Miami cops have been cited repeatedly for refusing to use their body cameras correctly, and two Miami officers, Reynaldo Irias and Yesid Ortiz, were sued earlier this year for allegedly arresting a man in a situation similar to the Crocker case.
According to the CIP investigation, the minute Morales told the cop he was recording, Crocker yanked the phone out of his hand and told him he was under arrest. In fact, the officer admitted as much in his arrest report.
"I told the defendant to put down the electronic device and he refuses to put down the electronic device and he refused those commands," Crocker wrote in an arrest affidavit. He then claimed that being recorded was somehow a "safety" issue. "For my
CIP investigators said that when Morales was booked
"Contact was made with Records who advised there was no Property Receipt generated under Mr. Morales’ arrest case
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The incident raises two obvious points. For one, there's no reason internal affairs shouldn't have also punished the officer. (CIP complaints are
In a case with even larger implications for civilians,
MPD may need to brush up on the rules of recording cops in public as well.
"Staff finds there are sufficient facts to show that Mr. Morales had his cell phone aka electronic device during the contact with Officer