Publix Bans Cop Caught Threatening Handcuffed Man With Taser
A Miami cop will no longer work off-duty at Publix after threatening a handcuffed man with a Taser and then lying about it.
Illustration by Joseph Laney
Miami Police Officer Vincent Miller has misused his Taser twice in the past two years while working off-duty at the Publix on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 17th Terrace. In 2013, he needlessly used his Taser on a homeless man and then tried to cover it up. Then last year — in a case New Times first reported Monday — he held a charged weapon to a handcuffed man's head in a back room and again lied about it to investigators.
Miller has so far escaped serious punishment from MPD, but after the latest incident, he's at least lost his off-duty grocery store gig.
"As the investigation information was made public, our leadership department responsible for contracting outside services has reached out and asked that the officer be removed from serving Publix," says Nicole Krauss, a spokesperson for the supermarket chain.
Miller has one of the most troubling records using a potentially lethal weapon with poor oversight; a New Times investigation last year found local cops had used the electronic weapons 3,000 times in the past eight years, killing at least 11 suspects. Miller had tasered at least five homeless or poor people suspected of shoplifting during that time.
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Police officials officially reprimanded Miller last year after Taser International's records proved he had repeatedly used the weapon in November 2013 on a homeless man outside the grocery store and then tried to hide it from his superiors. But Miller was apparently allowed back on the off-duty beat at the supermarket.
And last December, he struck again. Another man complained that Miller had handcuffed him, dragged him into a back room, and twice held a Taser to his head. "I thought I surely was going to die," the man wrote in a complaint.
Internal Affairs investigators spent nine months looking into that complaint but apparently never bothered to pull Taser's records or look at Publix's video surveillance. They ruled the case "inconclusive," but the city's independent Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP) took up the case. Video and Taser evidence proved Miller was lying again, and the CIP last month found him guilty of abusive conduct.
The CIP, though, is powerless to punish officers. One CIP board member, Daniel Suarez, emailed city commissioners this week asking them to look into Miller's record in light of the latest complaint.
"This is starting to become an issue of public safety from an officer with a complete disregard for it," Suarez wrote to commissioners. "As you know, we take cases just like Internal Affairs, and yet for some odd reason, most of the proof is overlooked."
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