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The Five Biggest Miami Police Stories of 2016

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Just in time for the holiday season, two Miami-Dade County Police officers this week were filmed handcuffing a frail, legless woman, dropping her on the ground, and letting her lie on the asphalt as she screamed for help, all because the woman panhandled a single dollar outside a Chevron gas station. On Thursday, the county police released body camera footage, in which the cops repeatedly mocked the woman, accused the old, disabled lady of attacking them, and unconstitutionally told a bystander to stop recording them.

Against all odds, this wasn't even one of the five most outrageous things Miami cops have done this year.

As anti-police-brutality protests roiled the nation for yet another year (and as very little changed for the better), Miami cops from various departments bumbled their way through a series of massive missteps this year, including shooting an unarmed man in the leg who was just trying to help an autistic person.

1. The Charles Kinsey Shooting: Kinsey, a behavioral technician, was just trying to help lead an autistic patient of his back home, after the man wandered out of his group home holding a toy truck. But someone decided to call the cops to investigate the scene, and apparently the words "I am unarmed" and "he is holding a toy truck" weren't enough to stop the cops from surrounding him with assault rifles. After Kinsey was filmed on the ground, with his arms in the air, shouting that he had no weapon, North Miami Police Officer Jonathan Aledda shot Kinsey in the leg anyway. His excuse? He was aiming for the unarmed autistic man. Because that made everything better.

2. Miami's Police Union Chief Starts an Embarrassing, Failed Beyoncé Boycott: Even the ongoing rift between Black Lives Matter protesters and the police isn't enough for cops to turn on Beyoncé. In January, the Exalted One, Queen Bey herself, performed in a Black Panther-referencing outfit during the Super Bowl Halftime show. A minority of cops across the country expressed some immediate outrage — but nobody got upset quite like Miami Fraternal Order of Police Head (and frequent New Times character) Javier Ortiz, who demanded that his officers refuse to provide security at Beyoncé concerts in South Florida. He also tried to get other departments to join nationwide. Nobody listened to him.

3. South Miami Police Shoot an Unarmed Football Star for No Reason, Get Sued: Though Michael Gavins was shot in November 2015, he didn't speak publicly about his case until January of this year — when he accused a South Miami cop with a history of sketchy conduct of shooting him in the back for absolutely no reason. Gavins, a former standout football player at the University of Missouri, said he was pulled over, and — despite saying numerous times that he was unarmed — forced to get out of his car and put his hands on the vehicle's hood. Then, Gavins said he hear a pop, his chest started to sear, and he realized a bullet had torn through his chest without killing him. He's now suing the department.

4. Bumbling Police Brass Let Murder Evidence Rot Under Highway: This whole case, first revealed by blogger Al Crespo, is a testament to the City of Miami Police Department's exemplary ability to take a bad idea and wax, buffer, and shine that idea into something truly boneheaded and idiotic. First: Miami cops, for some boneheaded reason, decided to store extra murder evidence in a rickety metal storage locker under an I-95 overpass. The locker, to absolutely no one's surprise, rusted out, and an unknown amount of evidence was ruined, according to police documents. But Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes issued a statement saying he only found out about the locker's poor condition in 2016 — except for the fact that he himself sent emails about the murder evidence as far back as 2012.

5. But every Miami police department got a bunch of new toys anyway: Despite clear concerns about cops' training and ability to deescalate violent situations, multiple Miami-Dade departments got a bunch of shiny new gear this year. The upgrades include: Sketchy license-plate readers, way more bulletproof vests, way, way more AR-15 rifles, a gunshot-detection system that likely doesn't work, and a free armored truck that Miami Beach had to give back after the Department of Defense said they couldn't take free armored trucks.

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