James “Michael” Montgomery thought he was going to get hit when a Miami cop pulled in front of his scooter at a busy intersection and tried to make a left turn, despite a sign indicating left turns weren’t allowed. As traffic built up behind him at the green light, Montgomery frantically honked his horn and yelled, "No left turn!"
Trying to stop a police officer from pulling an illegal turn had consequences, though. After getting out of his patrol car and asking Montgomery whether his horn was broken, Officer Matthew Hall gave the 54-year-old military veteran a ticket for improper use of a horn. He threw in
“That really pissed me off,” Montgomery later told the Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an independent oversight board that reviewed the incident. “From the moment he said
Yet the police department’s internal affairs division found the cop had done nothing wrong. An investigator decided Montgomery's complaint didn’t merit further investigation because “the police officer did not violate any departmental rules and regulations or state statutes.”
The CIP disagreed, though. After talking to the vet and a witness who confirmed his account, the CIP says the cop broke multiple departmental rules.
Montgomery says he was on his way to the VA to discuss treatment for PTSD when he had his run-in with Hall. It was 1:40 p.m. November 7, and Hall was headed north on NW 12th Avenue in the left lane. At the intersection
When Hall asked him if his horn was broken, an incredulous Montgomery answered honestly.
“I said, ‘No. Why in the hell are you making an illegal
The officer made Montgomery pull over at a 7-Eleven, took his driver's license, and wrote him the two citations. A supervisor eventually did show up, but Hall had already left after telling Montgomery: “I’m not staying.” Sgt. Andrew Markowitz told Montgomery he couldn’t do much because he hadn't witnessed the encounter, but he said he would forward the scooter rider's complaint to the right people.
Montgomery didn’t have much faith that anything would come of it.
“As far as I’m concerned, my trust with the police department at that point was, ‘Well, if something happens, something happens. I don’t believe what police officers are telling people,’” he says.
Sure enough, a day later, the complaint with IA was closed as unsupported. Kenia Fallat, a spokesperson for the police department, told New Times she couldn’t comment because MPD doesn’t discuss CIP cases.
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Meanwhile, Hall appears to have never filed the citations against Montgomery with the county clerk of courts. CIP investigators who searched for the two violations in the course of their investigation weren’t able to find them.
They tracked down
This past Tuesday, CIP board members voted to sustain two allegations of improper procedure against Hall — one for making an illegal turn and another for failing to file the citations. They noted that the officer, who has been with the Miami Police Department for 14 years, has racked up 35 citizen complaints, many of
"When you look at Mr. Hall's resumé," board member Rafael Cabrera says, "it speaks for itself."