Black Teen Framed by Miami-Area Cops Sues Department

Village of Biscayne Park / Raimundo Atesiano via LinkedIn
Even in 2018, it's a shock to actually hear cops admit to straight-up framing black suspects as a matter of policy. That's exactly what's happened in Biscayne Park. In June, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment alleging that Raimundo Atesiano, the former police chief of the tiny Miami-Dade town, had intentionally framed one black teenager for a series of burglaries in order to close out every unsolved robbery in Biscayne Park. His cops were told to frame random black people for crimes, according to three other officers — Charlie Dayoub, Raul Fernandez, and Guillermo Ravelo — who have already pleaded guilty to various crimes.

Now the teen who was framed in that case, known as "T.D." in most court records, has filed a federal lawsuit against Atesiano, the three cops, and the Village of Biscayne Park alleging that the group violated his civil rights and maliciously prosecuted him.

"The defendants were part of a conspiracy to satisfy the Village that crime was being eliminated," the suit reads. The suit also alleges that Ravelo separately issued T.D. 22 different traffic violations in 2013, which T.D. claims were "not based upon probable cause or reasonable suspicion."

The entire Biscayne Park police scandal exposed one of the most outwardly racist schemes in recent law-enforcement history: According to documents the Miami Herald obtained last month, Atesiano's own officers said in a 2014 internal probe that the chief ordered his officers to pin crimes on innocent black people. Four officers (more than a third of Biscayne Park's 11 full-time officers) told investigators Atesiano told them to frame black residents for crimes.

"If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” Officer Anthony De La Torre told investigators, per the Herald. “They were basically doing this to have a 100 percent clearance rate for the city.”

The federal indictment says Atesiano specifically framed T.D. for four different burglaries stretching from April through May of 2013. Federal prosecutors say Atesiano wanted to tell the town government he'd solved every single burglary in town, a statistic that even other law-enforcement members have since said is basically impossible to achieve, even for the best investigators.

"Atesiano directed Dayoub and Fernandez to arrest T.D. on June 13, 2013, and falsely charge him with unsolved burglaries knowing that there was no evidence and no lawful basis to support such charges," prosecutors said in a statement in June. "The indictment further alleges that following Atesiano’s instruction, Dayoub and Fernandez gathered information for four unsolved burglary cases, completed four arrest affidavits for the burglaries, and included a false narrative that an investigation revealed that T.D. had committed the four burglaries of unoccupied dwellings."

According to the Herald, Miami-Dade County prosecutors dropped T.D.'s charges after the State Attorney's Office noticed the police arrest affidavits sounded eerily similar, including multiple instances in which a “rear door pried open" in exactly the same way at houses the homeless teenager was supposed to have burglarized.

Ravelo pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge at the end of July, while Fernandez and Dayoub pleaded guilty on Friday to framing the teen. Both Fernandez and Dayoub reportedly blamed their actions on Atesiano. According to LinkedIn, the former chief left the department in 2014 and later became a security manager at the Fontainebleau and Soho Beach House resorts in Miami Beach.

"All of the charges against plaintiff were resolved in his favor," the short, 11-page lawsuit reads. "However, he was incarcerated and unable to get a license due to the violation of his civil rights under [the] color of law."
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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