Man Says Miami Police Officers Posed for Pictures on His Motorcycle After Arrest

Alfredo Ballester was sitting on his motorcycle at a red light in Little Havana when a police officer suddenly pulled in front of him and jumped out of his patrol car. To the 19-year-old's surprise, the officer hurried toward him and tore him off his motorcycle, explaining he thought Ballester would try to flee.

If that wasn't strange enough, Ballester claims he then spent two hours in the back of a squad car while the cop, later identified as Officer Frank Targia, posed for pictures on his bike. Ballester was later arrested and taken to jail for resisting arrest without violence and not having a motorcycle endorsement. And when he tried to retrieve his motorcycle the next day, the key was missing.

In a complaint Ballester filed with the Civilian Investigative Panel, he writes, “I think Officer Targia should be suspended for excessive use of force with no need.” But no video was captured during the March 16 arrest, the Miami Police Department said no radio transmissions are available “due to a malfunction with the recording system,” and Targia denied wrongdoing.

With no way to determine what exactly happened, the CIP has closed the allegation of abusive treatment as not substantiated. The independent panel did, however, sustain two allegations of improper procedure because the key was mishandled and because Targia’s worksheet did not note the incident or Ballester’s arrest.

According to CIP records, the encounter between Targia and Ballester began around 2:40 a.m. March 16 at the intersection of NW 27th Avenue and NW Seventh Street. Targia wrote in his arrest report that he had turned on his lights and told Ballester to stop and get off the motorcycle after the officer noticed its tag was obstructed by the exhaust pipe.

When Targia spoke with investigators looking into Ballester’s complaint, he said Ballester was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. The motorcyclist, he said, made an evasive move and said no when the officer tried to arrest him, Targia claimed. He denied taking any photos with the motorcycle, and two cops who arrived as backup — Officers Asley Planas and Michael Aguilera — also denied those allegations.

But Ballester, who did not immediately respond to New Times’ request for comment, told CIP investigators he hadn't seen Targia or tried to get away. “Why would I stop at a red light if I was trying to escape?” he wrote in his complaint. He claimed that when he asked Targia why he had been pulled off his motorcycle, the officer responded, “Fuck-boy activity gets fuck-boy consequences.”

He said that after Targia and the other officers snapped photos on the motorcycle, Targia sent them to others on his cell phone. Targia wouldn’t let him take the bike home, Ballester says, and told him he would have it towed. Ballester went to pick up the bike the next day but found out the key wasn’t available. He got it back from Targia personally.

The Miami Police Department’s Office of Internal Affairs investigated the complaint after the CIP forwarded it but closed the case as inconclusive after taking statements from Ballester and the officers.

All of the charges against Ballester were dropped.

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