A probe has revealed the former police chief in a Biscayne Park Florida told his officers to pin unsolved crimes on black people so the department would have better crime statistics, reported The Miami Herald.
Former Biscayne Park Chief Raimundo Atesiano and two officers, Raul Fernandez and Charlie Dayoub, have been charged with falsely accusing a black Haitian-American teenager, identified as T.D., of 4 burglaries in an attempt to impress the village leaders with a perfect burglary-solving record.
In T.D.’s case, the report mentioned no witnesses, no fingerprints, no evidence, no confession, no recovered stolen property, but police decided to charge him with 4 burglaries anyway.
The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office later dismissed all the charges against T.D.
In federal court last month, even more disturbing accusations arose against the corrupt officers.
“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” Officer Anthony De La Torre said as part the probe, which was ordered in 2014. “They were basically doing this to have a 100 percent clearance rate for the city.”
Officer Omar Martinez also said he was told in reference to vehicle burglaries, “if he saw anyone walking in the village at night [and] if they had any type of past at all to arrest them and somehow try to charge them with the burglaries, even if they weren’t the ones who committed it.”
Martinez said those orders came from Cpl. Nicholas Wollschlager, but he refused to do it because, “it was illegal and unethical.” Wollschlager denied the accusation.
Four of the village’s 12 officers admitted to an outside investigator that they felt pressured to file false charges.
Former Biscayne Park village manager Heidi Shafran also noted the disturbing orders of the police chief.
“The letters said police were doing a lot of bad things,” Shafran said. “It said police officers were directed to pick up people of color and blame the crimes on them.”
Atesiano chose to resign during the investigation in 2014. During his 2 years there, all but 1 of the 30 burglaries were “solved.” Most were “solved” with the arrest of a black male. Strangely, there were 19 unsolved burglaries in the year after he resigned, and 0 solved.
Erasmus Banmah, 35, was charged with 5 vehicle burglaries in February 2014, but all charges were dropped immediately by prosecutors when Biscayne Park cops would not cooperate.
Despite statements from the officers in the probe and the village manager, Atestiano and Capt. Lawrence Churchman both denied pressuring officers to make false arrests.
“Encouraging, or even demanding, that public employees raise their performance levels to meet the citizens’ expectations is not an invitation for those public employees to cut corners or falsify documents,” Atestiano’s defense attorney, Richard Docobo, told the Herald.
Churchman, who has not been indicted with a crime, is accused of regularly making racist and sexist comments.
“The captain has said on several different occasions he doesn’t want any n*****s, f*****s or women bitches working at Biscayne Park,” officer Thomas Harrison told the investigator.
Churchman left the department in 2014 and denies all accusations, saying crime statistics were not his responsibility.
“It is ridiculous to believe that I would encourage sworn officers to falsify crime reports and to pin crimes on innocent people when clearing crimes was not my responsibility,” Churchman said.