Guillermo Cuadra thought he was in for a routine traffic stop when Miami police pulled him over on an August night two years ago. What he got instead was a broken left arm courtesy of some overzealous undercover cops, he claims, as well as bogus charges of soliciting a prostitute and resisting arrest.
That's according to a lawsuit filed August 10 by Cuadra against the City of Miami. He alleges that undercover officers running a prostitution sting in Flagami yanked him out of his car with guns drawn, slammed him to the ground and broke his arm as they handcuffed him. Then, when Cuadra complained about his injury, he was told to shut up and thrown into a squad car with no medical treatment for five hours.
"It was the most terrible thing I ever went through," Cuadra tells Riptide. "The officers were overly aggressive, verbally abusive, and violent."
None of the officers who took part in the arrest were named in Cuadra's lawsuit, as both he and his lawyer, Frank Hollander, were unable to identify any of them by name. Neither the Miami Police Department nor the City of Miami responded to requests for comment from the New Times.
Cuadra's problems began at 1 a.m. on August 20, 2010, when he was driving down West Flagler Street after leaving work. According to the lawsuit, Cuadra was stopped at a traffic light at West Flagler Street and and Southwest 47th Avenue when an undercover police officer in a prostitution sting approached his car, leaned into his passenger window, and asked him, "Do you want a fuck?" Cuadra declined the rather forward offer and drove off, only to find a cop tailing him. The police ordered Cuadra to pull into the parking lot of a nearby motel.
Once pulled over, Cuadra found at least five police officers, all with guns drawn, surrounding his vehicle and ordering him to get out. Once he did, the lawsuit alleges that the cops pushed him into the ground and began to handcuff him. While doing so, one of the officers pulled up on Cuadra's upper left arm, causing a fracture, nerve damage, and numbness in his elbow and hand.
The lawsuit further states, "The break caused an audible snap at which time the plaintiff Cuadra told the police officers, 'You broke my arm.' The defendant City of Miami police officer responded, 'Fuck you, you want a piece of this?'"
Cuadra adds that the officers called him a "piece of shit." When the officers ran his record and found that he was a veteran of the armed forces, they began to mock Cuadra for being in pain, telling him, "You call yourself tough? You should man up."
After cuffing Cuadra, the police put him in a squad car and resumed their undercover detail, despite Cuadra's protestations over his mangled arm. He was left there for four hours, arms restrained behind his back. Any time he brought up his injury, he says, the officers began to abuse him verbally, telling him, "What, are you a doctor?" At one point, the lawsuit states, an officer told Cuadra, "Well, you do still have another arm."
"I thought I was going to lose my arm," Cuadra says. He did get some rudimentary medical treatment on the scene an hour after his arrest, when fire rescue personnel near the scene gave him a sling. But then his arms were placed behind his back again. Cuadra finally got a doctor's attention after almost five hours in custody, when police at a station on Flagler Street turned him over to the medical ward.
To add insult to injury, the police charged Cuadra with a count of soliciting a prostitute, alleging that he offered the undercover cop $60 to have sex. That was despite the fact that Cuadra had only three dollars on him at the time of his arrest. A charge of resisting arrest was added to that, as officers claimed that Cuadra refused to exit his car. Cuadra says that he was initially reaching for his license and registration when pulled over, and that he complied with all commands at all times.
Cuadra was convicted on neither of the charges, but the pain and suffering he went through spurred him to sue the city.
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"To this day, I have a plate in my arm and lots of pain," he says. "I'm not the same I was before."
Hollander, Cuadra's lawyer, says that his client is seeking punitive damages of $500,000.