A veteran Miami-Dade police officer is under investigation after a video emerged of him telling a black man who wondered why he was arrested, “this is how you make yourself kill here, man.”
The man, identified by WTVJ-NBC 6 as Gerardson Nicolas, seems taken aback and then says to the officer: “Tell me that again. Say what you just said,” before the end of the video, which is less than a minute long.
Nicolas was arrested for not wearing a seatbelt last week.
The motorcycle policeman, who has not been named, has been removed from his position and assigned to a desk until an internal affairs investigation is completed.
“It’s exactly what the inference is that bothers me,” said acting Miami-Dade Police Superintendent George Perez, who ordered the investigation.
The exchange between Nicolas and the officer took place near the corner of Northeast 159th Street and 18th Avenue, just before 9 a.m. Wednesday and as Nicolas was on his way to work. The officer asks Nicolas for his license, registration and insurance and tells him that if he doesn’t offer it, “you won’t go to work”.
When Nicolas does not immediately present the documents, the officer makes the racist statement. Nicolas, who The Miami Herald could not reach Monday night, told NBC 6 he began recording the encounter when the officer grabbed his car door handle.
Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, said he would like to see the entire video before passing judgment. He also said he did not believe the officer’s statement was racist and that he interpreted it to mean that the officer was talking about the potential danger of not wearing a seatbelt.
“People are dying from not wearing a seatbelt every day,” Stahl said.
Perez said he became aware of the incident on Thursday after Miami-Dade cyber sleuths noticed Nicolas posted about it on his TikTok account and on Friday ordered an internal review. Perez said he watched 31 minutes of the camera footage carried by the officer, which began when he ordered Nicholas to stop.
Nicolas received a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt, not having a license plate and proper insurance, and for driving with a suspended license. The officer did not arrest him or order his car to be towed. A family member picked it up later, Perez said.
Perez also said Nicolas visited the police on Monday, spoke with detectives and filed a formal complaint. In a brief interview with NBC 6, Nicolas said he was “respectful” of the officer and the officer’s body-worn camera footage will show that. Police had not released the footage Monday night.