The City of Miami Police Athletic League runs a youth football camp to help teach local kids the value of working hard, competing fairly, and treating people with respect. But two men claim Miami cop Stanley Jean-Poix took some time out of football practice to demonstrate a different lesson in front of hundreds of kids: If you don't like someone, just run up behind him, choke him, and then have him arrested to cover up the laws you broke.
At least that's how brothers Dayton Rodriguez, 31, and Juan Velez, 22, describe what happened September 3, 2014.
The pair took Rodriguez's children and Velez's nephew to football practice at Curtis Park that September day. As the elder Rodriguez walked in from the parking lot, Velez says, he chose to walk his nephew across the practice field while the kids were exercising — the brothers claim this apparently enraged Jean-Poix, who started screaming at Velez to get his feet off the turf.
When Rodriguez got down to the field, he claims, he arrived to find Jean-Poix strangling his then-19-year-old brother in a chokehold.
"Jean-Poix physically assaulted Velez on the sideline of the football field and in plain view of the other children and parents attending the pee-wee football league," the suit says.
This isn't the first time Jean-Poix has been accused of arresting someone just for challenging his authority: In 2005, Haitian-American Miamian Doumic Romain told New Times that Jean-Poix had arrested him on a bogus disorderly conduct charge after Romain simply asked for Jean-Poix's badge number. "He wanted to emasculate me," Romain said at the time. Romain's charges were eventually dropped or refuted.
After Jean-Poix released Velez, his brother quickly called 911. But somehow, when the cops arrived, they ended up taking the two men away in the back of a squad car instead of Jean-Poix.
According to the suit, the brothers retreated out to the field's parking lot after Jean-Poix released them.
When on-duty cops arrived to the scrimmage, the men claim the police simply blew right past them, and ran right to Jean-Poix instead. The brothers claim the cops they called for help never interviewed them about what happened. Instead, the brothers say Jean-Poix, who was still off-duty at the time, arrested them and threw them in the back of the car.
According to arrest reports New Times obtained, the off-duty Jean-Poix himself signed an arrest report claiming Velez was intoxicated on the football field.
"As I tried to keep track of my team, the def. and co-def. were under arrest," Jean-Poix wrote. "However, they walked off from me. I spotted both def. and co-def. by the entrance gate of the park. Both were arrested."
Rodriguez's attorney says the cops' sworn arrest affidavits are inconsistent: For one, neither of the arresting officers actually explained how an on-duty cop ended up at Curtis Park that day. The arrest reports don't mention that Rodriguez actually called the cops for help — in fact, according to documents obtained from the State Attorney's Office, prosecutors initially did not enter Rodriguez's 911 tape into evidence during the brothers' criminal trials.
In another odd move, the arrest reports say the brothers were arrested at 7:55 that night. Miami-Dade County court records, however, say the men were not booked until the next day, indicating that the men either spent an inordinately long time waiting inside a jail cell, or were driven around unaccounted for in a squad car or police wagon for hours.
A lawyer for the pair, Vincent Duffy, provided two statements to New Times. "Dayton says he wishes his children didn't have to see this," Duffy said. "Juan says he expected more out of a police officer." The brothers declined to comment further.
As a matter of policy, the City of Miami does not comment on pending lawsuits.
The State Attorney's office dropped its charges of disorderly conduct and intoxication against the two men. The lawsuit claims prosecutors dumped the case "in order to shield Jean-Poix from a deposition."
The brothers are now suing both the City of Miami and Jean-Poix for battery and false imprisonment.
"Both Velez and Rodriguez had to post bond to secure their freedom from a tyrannical police officer that arrested them solely to insulate himself from arrest for his battery of Velez," the suit says.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.