Three police officers in the South Florida town of Homestead are facing criminal charges, according to the San Francisco Gate. All of the victims were immigrants, as the town of Homestead is home to many migrant workers.
Sergeant Jeffrey Rome is accused of beating two men outside of a bar last year. He is accused of using a mix of pepper spray and tear gas on one man even as he tried to walk away. In another case, he is accused of assault— dragging a 69-year old man by his collar and kicking him in the head as he lie motionless on the ground.
Another officer is accused of beating another immigrant victim. His shift supervisor is charged with covering the incident up.
The investigation, a combination of state and federal efforts, began when agents were monitoring a bar in a human trafficking case. This is where they first saw Rome and began tracking him.
During the same time period, many other brutality complaints came into the Homestead Police Department, but “often times the complainant was not found or Homestead Police Sergeant Jeffrey Rome would respond and cancel all other units.”
“Police brutality is wrong no matter what form it takes. The covering-up of police brutality is equally wrong. That’s why we are prosecuting these cases in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice who played an essential role in helping make these cases possible,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
The police union has accused Rundle of making a big deal out of a small case, in order to gain popularity for a re-election campaign. They say the timing of the arrests is suspicious because they come more than a year after the incidents.
Rundle’s office has said in response that tracking down victims, some of which live in Guatemala, was just one thing that made the investigation tricky.
Regardless of the motivation behind the current arrests, police brutality should never be overlooked. If officers were charged everytime there was a brutality complaint, the courts would likely see many more police-defendants. But criminal charges are not that easy and it take more than a complaint or one witness testimony to build a case.
This is a good thing—that prosecutors must have ample evidence to gain a conviction no matter who the defendant is.
If you are charged with a crime, the prosecutor likely thinks they can prove your guilt. With the help of a local defense lawyer, you still may be able to prevent a conviction. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case and what can be done to avoid the worst penalties.