Jose Farquaharson was standing on a street corner in Overtown one night in 2015 when a car sped past him. The 42-year-old says he shouted to two Miami Police officers across the road: "Do your fucking job and stop the cars from speeding!"
Farquaharson says one of the cops, Luis Arcia, ran across the street and yelled back at him to "kiss my ass." The officer grabbed Farquaharson by the wrist, threw him to the ground, and cuffed one of his hands. Then, Farquaharson says, Arcia punched him several times in the face, beating him so badly he required hospitalization.
Farquaharson, who has no criminal history in Miami-Dade, was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but the charges were dropped the next day. Three years after the horrific incident, he's now suing Arcia and the City of Miami for false arrest and excessive force in a case filed last week in Miami federal court.
"For a few years, he thought he was gonna get away with it," Farquaharson's attorney, Roderick Vereen, says of the officer. "If he's gonna get all pissed off because somebody yells profanities at him and exercise unlawful force, then [he's] in the wrong community and in the wrong job."
Neither the city attorney's office nor the Miami Police Department responded to requests for comment about the suit.
But Farquaharson's allegations echo several other recent incidents where people were beaten or arrested by Miami Police for noncriminal behavior. In May, an officer was suspended after video surfaced of him trying to kick a subdued man in the head. Another man was ticketed after honking at a cop to warn him of oncoming traffic. Several people have been arrested simply for filming police officers in public.
After his arrest, Farquaharson filed a complaint with MPD's internal affairs division. The evidence seemed strong: His injuries are clearly visible in his mug shot, which shows him still wearing a hospital gown, and several neighborhood witnesses came forward saying they saw Arcia punching Farquaharson in the face.
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Nevertheless, MPD's internal investigators closed his complaint without any action against Arcia in 2016 after calling the allegations "unsupported."
The Civilian Investigative Panel, an independent police-oversight board, also looked into the case. Although investigators said they found the witnesses' statements "disturbing," they ultimately couldn't substantiate the complaint because they could no longer reach the witnesses.
As of 2016, Arcia had received four citizen complaints, had seven use-of-force incidents on record, and had once been relieved of duty. Vereen says what the officer did to Farquaharson is symptomatic of how Miami cops treat Overtown residents.
"There's an atmosphere out there [from officers] that you may win in the courthouse, but you're gonna lose in the streets," he says. "Some people think that uniform gives them permission to do whatever they want... This was uncalled for."