Miami Beach Plans to "Vigorously" Fight Lawsuit by Good Samaritan Beaten by Cop

Andrew Mossberg thought he was helping a young woman in distress. He was walking his dog, Snoopy, with his 10-year-old son along West Avenue in South Beach when he saw a muscular man in street clothes screaming at a thin young woman, rifling through her purse, and then hitting her in the face. So he called 911. That's when the man turned on him, charging at him and kicking him in the head.

The man wasn't a mugger, though: He was Miami Beach Police Det. Philippe Archer. Mossberg is now suing Miami Beach for battery, false arrest, and excessive force.  

But even though Archer was later suspended for punching that woman while she was handcuffed, the city says it plans to fight Mossberg's claims. 

"The City will vigorously defend the claim," City Attorney Raul Aguila writes in a status report that will be presented to city commissioners next week. 

Mossberg's ordeal came June 26, 2013, around 6:30 p.m. on his usual dog walk near his West Avenue condo. That's when he spotted Archer and the woman, later identified as 29-year-old model Megan Adamescu. Mossberg didn't know it, but Archer was working undercover and was trying to arrest her for allegedly being intoxicated and disruptive in a condo lobby.

When Mossberg called 911 and yelled at Archer to stop, Mossberg says the cop attacked him. Mossberg, by the way, stands only five-foot-two and weighs 120 pounds.

"I yelled at him that the police are on their way," Mossberg told New Times after the incident. "That's when he ran at me, kicked me once in the left side of the head, then kicked me again in the forehead and punched me twice."

Mossberg provided New Times with the photo above showing his injuries after the encounter. A bystander caught the aftermath on video:

Archer was later suspended while internal affairs investigated Mossberg's complaint, but IA cleared the detective of wrongdoing and returned him to duty.

That wasn't the end of Archer's story, though. Last spring, the detective was suspended 160 hours for violating department policy — all thanks to another video. This one, shot inside a police parking garage, shows the detective kicking and punching Adamescu while she's handcuffed and in police custody: 

In his lawsuit, Mossberg, an independent businessman, says he's suffered long-term fallout from his violent encounter with Archer.

"Mossberg suffered damages which include physical injury, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and distress, loss of liberty, humiliation, embarrassment, damage to reputation, loss of income, and the violation of his constitutional rights," his attorney, Ray Taseff, writes in a complaint filed this week in federal court.

Taseff also notes that Archer's questionable record goes well beyond his suspension for punching Adamescu. Archer has been sued four times in federal court for excessive force. In three of those cases, the city paid out thousands of dollars in settlements.

The fourth case remains open — it's over Archer's role in the infamous Memorial Day shooting in which the detective was one of a number of cops who fired more than 115 rounds into a car, killing the driver and wounding at least five innocent bystanders.

Archer was also the subject of seven separate citizen complaints for excessive force before beating up Mossberg. Add it up, Taseff argues, and the city was negligent for not firing the cop.

"In furtherance of its responsibility to supervise Archer and in response to Defendant Archer’s conduct — in particular, his being sued four (4) times for civil rights violations involving excessive force in the one-year period prior to his attack of Mossberg — the City did nothing," Taseff writes in his complaint. 

Miami Beach has yet to file a response in federal court, but according to Aguilar's memo, it'll be spending thousands more in taxpayer dollars to defend itself from Mossberg's complaint.

As for Archer, he has served his suspension and is back on the streets again working as a Miami Beach cop.
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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink