Reporters packed into a conference room last week around officials from Miami Beach and the State Attorney’s Office. Their message was clear: The Miami Beach Police Department was cleaning up its act. More than a dozen cops were now under investigation for sending and receiving hundreds of racist and pornographic emails. “That kind of behavior is over,” Chief Dan Oates said.
But the big conference came barely two weeks after a far more troubling incident with much less accountability: Det. Philippe Archer had been caught on camera punching a handcuffed woman in the face. Yet he faced no criminal charges and wasn’t fired, but suspended only 160 hours.
Now New Times has obtained Archer’s internal affairs records. In addition to four federal lawsuits over allegedly violent conduct toward suspects, which New Times detailed last week, the IA complaints suggest city leaders should have acted sooner on Archer. The records show that at least three other suspects also complained that Archer physically abused them.
The first complaint came in 1999, when a woman named Darlene Santos complained that Archer battered her while arresting her. IA investigators dropped the case when Santos didn’t respond to follow-up calls.
The next complaint came in 2005, when a man named Byron Lang claimed Archer and an unidentified officer tackled him for no reason on Washington Avenue, leaving him with severe back pain. Lang didn’t respond to follow-up calls from investigators, according to IA investigators, so the case was closed.
Most disturbing, though, is a case filed in May 2009 by a man named Andres Duquesne. Duquesne, who has a long history of criminal charges and at least one felony conviction for burglary in 2005, was picked up by Archer and another cop in 2008 for drinking in public on Washington Avenue.
Duquesne said he was taken in handcuffs to MBPD headquarters and brutally beaten in a holding area by Archer while Duquesne’s hands were still restrained — an eerie echo of the case that got Archer suspended last month, after video captured him punching a handcuffed female suspect in the same holding area.
Duquesne also alleged Archer altered a police report to claim the suspect had attacked the officer. Duquesne later spent a full year in jail awaiting charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and cocaine possession, but prosecutors dropped both charges.
Investigators cleared Archer in July 2010, though. They say fellow cops disputed Duquesne’s version of events and said Archer had never punched him. (One of the four officers who backed up Archer’s story was Det. Richard Anastasi, who pleaded guilty a few months later to kidnapping and torturing a Russian man to try to extort $100,000 out of him.)
As for the racist cops uncovered last week, one — former Capt. Alex Carulo — was fired. Another, retired Maj. Angel Vasquez, might be charged with illegally emailing an autopsy photo. Archer, after serving his suspension, will return to work as a detective.
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