The City of Miami police officer nicknamed "Uncle Fester" violated departmental procedures when he stuffed two police-filming provocateurs in his patrol car for no justifiable reason and told them to "enjoy the manly and delicious smells" emanating from the backseat, according to an internal affairs report.
"Officer Heredia Rubio requested identification from both men, became agitated when they did not provide it, exited his police vehicle, unlawfully detained and handcuffed both men, and placed them in the back seat of his marked police vehicle," the Miami Police Department (MPD) investigation report reads.
Rubio was also discourteous to the duo on multiple occasions, including when he asked them if they were "comiendo mierda" (Spanish for eating feces) prior to the encounter, the report said.
The incident, which was captured in a viral video entitled "Unhinged Cop Goes Hands On and Demands ID," began when self-described First Amendment auditors Rafael Gomez and Joel Lopez approached Rubio's vehicle as he sat in the middle of the road with his emergency lights engaged.
"Rubio motioned by waving his hand for both men to come closer to his patrol vehicle and asked [them] in Spanish if they found him attractive," the report continues.
The officer then demanded to see their IDs after they told him he was blocking traffic. Lopez and Gomez laughed loudly in response and asked to speak with a supervisor. Immediately thereafter, the short and stocky officer with a glistening shaved head slapped handcuffs on the two men and placed them in the back of his cruiser.
"During the handcuffing of Mr. Gomez, he can be heard complaining, 'You're breaking my arm,'" the report states. "Rubio placed Mr. Lopez in his police vehicle and ordered Mr. Gomez to sit on top of him."
Lopez and Gomez were released after spending nearly 40 minutes in the back of the police car during the November 2022 incident. They asked the officer why they were detained, to which he responded, "Because I wanted to. Thank you. Goodbye." Gomez then flipped off the officer and called him "Uncle Fester," a nod to the barrel-shaped bald character from the Addams Family.
Gomez, AKA Ragomonkey, and Lopez are no strangers to police throughout the Magic City. They are self-described First Amendment activists who record their interactions with police officers and local politicians to test the bounds of free speech. Many of Gomez's videos that he posts on his popular YouTube channel document him flipping off police officers and hurling insults at public meetings.
In the encounter with Rubio, the officer told Gomez and Lopez to wait for his supervisor to arrive so he could receive his "pow, pow," Spanish slang for a spanking, according to the report. When Lopez told the officer he broke Gomez's phone during his detainment, Rubio imitated a crying baby and said, "Oh my god, I broke his phone. Oh my god."
A review of the bodycam footage from Rubio and officers who arrived later captured the officer telling Lopez his driver's license photo was "sexy."
The Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an independent oversight panel for Miami police, said the footage also showed that when one of the men complained they were being treated like animals in the backseat and questioned if "that's what we deserved," Rubio responded, "Correct."
"Sorry it's tight like that. It's not supposed to be a limo," Rubio said, according to the CIP investigation. "Since you're a good friend of Chief Morales, ask him to get us limos for the next contract."
During his interview with the internal affairs investigator in June 2023, the report states that Rubio said he had detained Lopez and Gomez because they had obstructed him while he was working on a traffic investigation. He contended he was outnumbered and feared he could be ambushed so he detained them for his safety.
"Officer Heredia Rubio noted the two men were filming him for no reason. They spoke to him using loud voices. They were belligerent, they refused to provide identification, [and] they disturbed him from what he was doing," the investigator said.
Rubio claimed it was not until the duo was in the back of his police car that he recognized Lopez and Gomez as "police agitators" from a previous video of the men and a City of Miami sergeant. The officer maintained that it alleviated his safety concerns but that he wanted to complete a "field interrogation form" before he released them.
Rubio acknowledged he made several sarcastic and discourteous remarks during the encounter, but he said he was trying to build a rapport with the men.
"Officer Heredia Rubio explained the men were trying to be 'smart-asses' and he was trying to be 'just as much...a smart-ass back to them' and that he was just 'being the Flagami Cowboy' and having fun with them," the investigator wrote.
Internal affairs sustained the allegation of improper procedure against the officer for unlawfully detaining the two men and for not wearing his bodycam at the start of the incident. The allegation of "discourtesy" was sustained for the officer's behavior throughout the encounter.
A Miami lieutenant, the supervising officer who responded to the scene, was cited for violating departmental procedures because he refused to file a complaint against officer Rubio for his behavior when Lopez and Gomez asked, according to the report. Instead, he directed them "to file their complaint directly with Internal Affairs."
The CIP's investigation logged the same violations against the officers.
New Times has reached out to MPD's Labor Relations unit to learn Rubio's punishment but has yet to hear back.