On December 8, 2014, 60-year-old Charlie Bradley drove from Sarasota to Miami for a meeting of Friends of Miami Marine Stadium, a group that has sought to restore the historic, graffiti-covered structure on Virginia Key.
Walking around the stadium that Monday, Bradley — a retired schoolteacher who grew up in Miami —pulled out his cell phone and began recording video of the colorful graffiti that adorned the walls. That's when a police officer stopped Bradley and threatened to throw him in jail.
Two years later, Bradley is now suing the City of Miami for false arrest, battery, and negligent training. He says the officers racially profiled him while ignoring the white and Hispanic group members who accompanied him.
The lawsuit identifies two Miami Police officers, Carolina Galvez and Sgt. Jaime Ramirez, as the cops shown in the video Bradley shot of his arrest that day. Within just a few seconds of approaching Bradley, Galvez can be heard asking for his ID (the conversation takes place around the 2:
The video depicts six to eight younger group members standing around, although the two officers appear to focus their attention on Bradley. When he politely asks why they need his ID, Galvez grows exasperated:
Galvez: Can I help you? Do you have any ID on you?
Bradley: Yeah, I do.
Galvez: Let me see your ID.
Galvez: Well, you're in a building that's not allowed to be trespassed in, so right now you're in a no-trespassing zone, OK? You could get arrested for trespassing, just as well as everybody else. So go ahead and show me your ID.
Bradley: They're getting arrested for trespassing?
Galvez: Sir, that's an investigation that I'm going to handle. Give me your ID.
That's when Ramirez tells Galvez to handcuff Bradley for their safety. Galvez later said she was intimidated by Bradley because "he was a large man," according to the lawsuit.
At one point in the background of the video, Ramirez can be heard telling the others that "people get arrested here every day." But Bradley's lawyer says that isn't true: A review of internal affairs documents showed that only one other arrest had ever been made at Miami Marine Stadium, his attorney, Dana Esposito, says.
While the other group members are seen unrestrained, Galvez uses two pairs of handcuffs on Bradley. After placing him in the back of a patrol car, the officers agree to let Bradley go with a promise to appear in court on a trespassing charge.
Although everyone present that day was trespassing, only Bradley was arrested, a fact the lawsuit says indicates racial bias.
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"Each and every person overtly present at Miami Marine Stadium that day was not placed in handcuffs [and was] released and allowed to leave," the lawsuit says. "They were neither adult nor black males."
Although the State Attorney's Office later dropped the charge, Esposito says the arrest, along with rough handling, took an emotional and physical toll on Bradley, who is now 62 and back in Miami.
"He's a retired teacher who worked for a long time in Miami, and I think this instance really freaked him out," Esposito tells New Times. "He had issues with his shoulder at the time of the incident, and this just aggravated the issues."
The city hasn't yet responded to the allegations in the lawsuit, although the officers have claimed Bradley's video was doctored (a charge his attorney denies). As a policy, the city says it doesn't comment on pending litigation.