In addition to tearing apart communities and undermining public respect for cops, police brutality is really effing expensive. When an officer punches someone who doesn't deserve it, taxpayers can be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements and legal fees.
Take, for instance, the case of Miami Beach Police cop Philippe Archer: Local good samaritan Andrew Mossberg says that he caught Archer beating up a woman half his size in 2013 — and that when Mossberg tried to break up the fight, Archer beat him to a pulp. Archer's shenanigans cost city taxpayers $100,000 last September, and now the city is being sued again over the same ordeal.
Last Wednesday, Megan Adamescu — the woman whom Archer punched in the same incident — sued Archer and the City of Miami Beach for false arrest, battery, civil rights violations, First Amendment violations, and negligent supervision. (Archer's union lawyer didn't return a call from New Times to comment on the case.)
Adamescu's case revolves around a brutal video that shows Archer punching her in the face while she's handcuffed in a police station parking garage.
"After Adamescu was beaten at the scene of her arrest, she was taken to the police station of the City of Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Beach Florida," the suit says. "With her hands securely cuffed behind her back, Adamescu was punched in the face by Philippe Archer. As other police officers went to restrain Archer, he kicked and attempted to strike Adamescu again."
The case began June 26, 2013, when Mossberg was out for a walk near his West Avenue apartment. Mossberg spotted a muscular man beating a small woman and tried to break up the altercation. He didn't know that Archer was an undercover cop; Mossberg tried to call 911 but was eventually kicked in the head and thrown into a car fender. He later sued, and Miami Beach settled the case without admitting guilt.
But Mossberg wasn't the only civilian injured that day. Adamescu's suit says the cops "may" have been initially called over a dispute between her and her former landlord; when Archer arrived at 6:20 p.m., the suit says, Adamescu had no idea who Archer was.
The suit says Archer began rifling through her purse, and when she tried to stop him, he punched her straight in the face. She says she fell to the ground, and Archer grabbed her head and began smashing it into the concrete. Archer had a huge size advantage over her: The suit says she's 5'9" tall and weighed 115 pounds at the time.
After Mossberg tried to intervene (and was allegedly beaten to a pulp), Archer took both civilians back to Miami Beach Police headquarters. There, Archer was caught on video attacking Adamescu yet again: While Adamescu can clearly be seen jawing with at least one other officer and tapping Archer in the leg with her own leg, Archer responded by cold-cocking the bandaged woman in the face with all his might. Then he kicked her:
While in the "sally port," Archer also took "trophy photos" of himself smiling next to Adamescu and Mossberg.
But as much as this is a story about a rogue cop, the ordeal shows a clear lack of oversight on the part of Miami Beach Police too. For one, Archer wasn't fired; he was simply suspended for 160 hours.
Before this incident, Archer had been sued four times for excessive force in federal court, but had rarely, if ever, been punished for any of his alleged actions. In the past, Archer had been accused of following a man in an unmarked police car before arresting him and beating him at police headquarters; arresting a lawyer for no reason; beating a father and son while working undercover; and — most notable — firing bullets into a moving car, killing the driver and shattering another woman's femur and pelvis.
Last September, Bobby Jenkins, the Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police's president, defended Archer in a written statement to New Times:
For over 20 years, Det. Phil Archer has done an outstanding job of serving the community of Miami Beach as a member of our elite crime suppression team and gang unit. This job entails dealing with some of the city’s most dangerous and violent criminals including murderers, rapists, drug dealers, terrorists, and burglars, among others. As such, officers who work this detail are much more likely to find themselves in precarious situations that can lead to altercations with the subjects who they encounter.
But Adamescu and Mossberg don't exactly agree with the union's characterization.
"The city breached its duty of reasonable care by: a) retaining Defendant Archer as a police officer; b) failing to discipline Defendant Archer for committing acts of misconduct including excessive force and false arrest against members of the public; c) failing to train and/or retrain Defendant Archer; d) failing to reassign Archer to a position where he would not pose a threat to the public; and e) failing to properly supervise and counsel Archer," the suit says.
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And whether Miami Beach settles this suit or not, Archer is certainly costing city taxpayers legal fees yet again.
Here's a copy of the suit: