Opa-locka Police Ignored Pistol Whipping, Resident Says

Thirty-year-old Lytisa Small says that last November she was talking to her ex-boyfriend, Irrington Roberts-Isaacs, outside his home on NW 140th Street in Opa-locka when another woman approached. The woman, a friend of both Roberts-Isaacs and his current girlfriend's, was incensed that Small was speaking to Roberts-Isaacs and smacked her across the face with a pistol. More than eight months later, Small and her lawyer are still pleading with the Opa-locka Police Department -- long considered among the nation's most dysfunctional -- to make an arrest.

"You'd figure it would command more respect from them," Faudlin Pierre, Small's attorney, told Riptide. "They could not care less."

Small claims the woman, whom she knew through mutual acquaintances, pulled up to the house "in gym shorts and with her gun visible" and then called her a "stupid bitch." She says she didn't engage the attacker, who nevertheless reached around Roberts-Isaacs to strike her. Small showed Riptide pictures of her face that she says she took shortly after the pistol-whipping. Her face appears swollen, with two gashes the length of her eyelid. She says the wounds required stitches.

Small says she immediately reported the attack to the Opa-locka Police Department and later went to the station to identify the woman and provide photos. Opa-locka Police did not respond to Riptide's request for records regarding the alleged incident.

The attacker, whose name New Times is withholding because attempts to reach her were unsuccessful, has no criminal record in Miami-Dade. Small's record shows a third-degree felony theft charge from 2006, which was eventually discharged.

Small claims the detective assigned to the case gave her the runaround: For months she regularly called to check on progress, only to be told by the detective that he was too busy or that no arrest could be made because the assailant lived outside Opa-locka. Small says she spoke with a police supervisor, who promised her that she had indeed provided enough information for the department to issue an arrest warrant and that he would follow up.

When he didn't, Small finally hired Pierre, who earlier this month sent a letter to Opa-locka Police Chief Jeff Key, threatening legal action against the department. "The crime was not only egregious," Pierre wrote to Key, "but Opa-locka Police Department's response in failing to issue an arrest warrant is equally disturbing."

Opa-locka PD has a long history of public troubles. In 2011, New Times obtained city memos that showed a pattern of egregious officer misbehavior. Cops would destroy reports of alleged crimes if offenders had sex with them; officers also stole property from the police station and slept on duty. The same year, an Opa-locka captain was arrested on charges of protecting a drug ring and failing to act on knowledge of an earlier armored car robbery, and this June a lietenant was arresed on DUI charges after slamming his police vehicle into another car.

Pierre's letter to the department's chief was dated August 17. Nearly two weeks later, the lawyer still hasn't received a response. Roberts-Isaacs confirmed to Riptide that an incident involving the two women happened outside his house, but declined to elaborate further.

Update: After publication, the Opa-locka Police Department contacted Riptide to offer a different version of the sequence of events described in this story. In a meeting with Riptide, police chief Jeffrey Key, as well as the detective involved in the case, claimed that it was actually Lytisa Small who had been uncooperative in the investigation and that the detective had sent numerous text messages to Small in an attempt to communicate. It was only after Small's civil case against her accused batterer failed, the police chief said, that Small contracted Pierre, whose letter threatening legal action, they say, was sent before any attempts were made to arrange a meeting. "She was trying to get money out of this deal instead of trying to get justice," Key said.

Key also acknowledge his department had had problems in the past, but strongly objected to Riptide's characterization of Opa-locka PD's reputation as 'dysfunctional'. "I think we've made some great strides," he said. "We're going in the right direction."

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Trevor Bach