A sign at the intersection clearly indicates no left turns are allowed.EXPAND
A sign at the intersection clearly indicates no left turns are allowed.
Civilian Investigative Panel

After Honking at Cop for Illegal Left Turn, Scooter Rider Gets Ticketed for Horn Usage

James “Michael” Montgomery thought he was going to get hit when a Miami cop pulled in front of his scooter at a busy intersection and tried to make a left turn, despite a sign indicating left turns weren’t allowed. As traffic built up behind him at the green light, Montgomery frantically honked his horn and yelled, "No left turn!"

Trying to stop a police officer from pulling an illegal turn had consequences, though. After getting out of his patrol car and asking Montgomery whether his horn was broken, Officer Matthew Hall gave the 54-year-old military veteran a ticket for improper use of a horn. He threw in a second citation for not wearing approved eye protection — even though Montgomery was wearing a helmet with a “DOT approved” sticker on it.

“That really pissed me off,” Montgomery later told the Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an independent oversight board that reviewed the incident. “From the moment he said that, I said, ‘I need to see your supervisor right now, because you're writing a ticket that’s wrong. You're writing this out of a vindictive nature because I called your bluff.’”

Yet the police department’s internal affairs division found the cop had done nothing wrong. An investigator decided Montgomery's complaint didn’t merit further investigation because “the police officer did not violate any departmental rules and regulations or state statutes.”

The CIP disagreed, though. After talking to the vet and a witness who confirmed his account, the CIP says the cop broke multiple departmental rules.

Montgomery says he was on his way to the VA to discuss treatment for PTSD when he had his run-in with Hall. It was 1:40 p.m. November 7, and Hall was headed north on NW 12th Avenue in the left lane. At the intersection with NW Seventh Street, Hall drove around Montgomery, flipped on his left turn signal, and stopped to turn onto NW Seventh Avenue.

When Hall asked him if his horn was broken, an incredulous Montgomery answered honestly.

“I said, ‘No. Why in the hell are you making an illegal left-hand turn?’” he told CIP investigators.

The officer made Montgomery pull over at a 7-Eleven, took his driver's license, and wrote him the two citations. A supervisor eventually did show up, but Hall had already left after telling Montgomery: “I’m not staying.” Sgt. Andrew Markowitz told Montgomery he couldn’t do much because he hadn't witnessed the encounter, but he said he would forward the scooter rider's complaint to the right people.

Montgomery didn’t have much faith that anything would come of it. 

The citations Hall issued to Montgomery.EXPAND
The citations Hall issued to Montgomery.
Civilian Investigative Panel

“As far as I’m concerned, my trust with the police department at that point was, ‘Well, if something happens, something happens. I don’t believe what police officers are telling people,’” he says.

Sure enough, a day later, the complaint with IA was closed as unsupported. Kenia Fallat, a spokesperson for the police department, told New Times she couldn’t comment because MPD doesn’t discuss CIP cases.

Meanwhile, Hall appears to have never filed the citations against Montgomery with the county clerk of courts. CIP investigators who searched for the two violations in the course of their investigation weren’t able to find them.

They tracked down witness Henry Laurido, who owns the nearby Henry's Tires and said he saw Hall's patrol car attempting to make an illegal left turn and Montgomery honking, screaming, and pointing to the sign indicating left turns aren't allowed. Laurido said he then saw the officer pull over the scooter rider.

This past Tuesday, CIP board members voted to sustain two allegations of improper procedure against Hall — one for making an illegal turn and another for failing to file the citations. They noted that the officer, who has been with the Miami Police Department for 14 years, has racked up 35 citizen complaints, many of them traffic-related.

"When you look at Mr. Hall's resumé," board member Rafael Cabrera says, "it speaks for itself."

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