Between 2008 and 2013, Miami Gardens Police ran what one public defender called "New York City stop-and-frisk on steroids." In a mostly black city with a population of 110,000, police made 99,980 stops of 65,328 people, as revealed in a 2014 Fusion investigation. Children and the elderly were among those stopped by police; even a 5-year-old was considered "suspicious."
In the case that sparked Fusion's investigation, a man named Earl Sampson was stopped 419 times within five years. He was arrested 62 times for trespassing-related offenses, mostly at the convenience store where he worked.
Now a former Miami Gardens Police officer says he was fired for blowing the whistle on the department's nefarious practices. In a lawsuit filed Monday, Jose Rosado says supervisors including Maj. Anthony Chapman directed him to "target black males between the ages of 15 and 30 and to conduct more field contacts with all such individuals regardless of probable cause."
"He was a former officer, and he decided to blow the whistle and received the short end of the stick and was relieved of his duty," says Rosado's attorney, Phillip Ortiz. "We're fighting to get his job back and to have justice served in this case."
City spokeswoman Petula Burks did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.
A Miami Gardens Police officer from 2007 until his termination in 2015, Rosado "consistently took issue" with those directives, the suit says. He knew that the stop-and-frisks were conducted without the reasonable suspicion or probable cause required under the Fourth Amendment and that they were based on race, violating the 14th Amendment.
Then-Chief Matthew Boyd resigned in December 2013 after Sampson filed a civil rights lawsuit naming him and more than 75 officers under his command.
Rosado says he made city officials aware of violations of law and public waste committed by Chapman and other police department staff through a January 2014 written disclosure. A year later, he provided a sworn affidavit in a lawsuit filed by Sampson and others who were stopped by police.
Rosado was initially one of the defendants named in that case. But he opted to help the man who'd been repeatedly arrested, telling attorneys in an affidavit that Chapman had told his officers to conduct more stops and warned that if they didn't, it would be reflected in their evaluations.
"He also said that all crimes in the city were being committed by black males ages 15-30 and that we needed to stop all such males," Rosado continues. He adds that Chapman said a black man of that age should be stopped even if he was standing in front of his house.
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Notably, Rosado says in his affidavit that although he confronted police department leadership about the stops, he never reported misconduct because he had been threatened with termination when he tried to do so in the past.
His lawsuit says that after he reported misconduct, he was harassed at the police department, including being denied assignments and promotional opportunities because he was not a "team player" and having unsubstantiated complaints filed against him. Chapman investigated him for an incident "in which he absolutely did nothing wrong," and he was fired in June 2015.
Rosado says his termination was retaliation for speaking out.