Miami police choke and tackle black teen for "dehumanizing stare"

The 14-year-old was allegedly carrying a puppy when officers wrestled him to the ground


Steven Hsieh
May 31, 2013 2:22AM (UTC)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet

New cell phone footage shows Miami-Dade Police officers aggressively pinning an unarmed teen to the ground while choking him. His alleged crime: giving the officers “dehumanizing stares” and “clenching his fists.”

Fourteen-year-old Tremaine McMillan says he was feeding his puppy and playing on the beach with some friends when cops riding ATVs approached him and asked what he was doing. The "peacekeeping" officers say they saw McMillan roughhousing with another teenager, told him it was “unacceptable behavior,” and asked where his mother was. When McMillan walked away, they chased him on ATVs, jumped out, pinned him to the ground and arrested him. According to police reports, McMillan “attempted to pull his arm away, stating, 'Man, don't touch me like I did something.'" See footage of the incident, captured by McMillan's mother:

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McMillan says he obeyed orders, and was leading the officers towards his mother when they jumped him. The teen adds that he was holding and feeding his puppy at the time, who got injured during the encounter.

“I don’t like it. I feel sad. He got in front of me on the ATC (sic) and he slammed my hand,” McMillan said. “Then he started choking me. Then my 6-week old Pit Bull mix named Polo got hurt and bruised his front paw when the police grabbed me and slammed me down. It makes me feel sad.”

Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta justified the use of force, saying McMillan was exhibiting threatening “body language,” which includes “clenched fists.” McMillan adamantly denies this charge because, well, he was holding a puppy.

“Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us,” said Zabaleta.  “And when you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that’s clenching their fist, somebody that’s flaring their arms, that’s the immediate threat.”

McMillan’s mother, Maurissa Holmes saw the incident and recorded it on her cell phone. She told WSVN-TV, "I ran over there and said, 'That's my son, that's my son. Can you get off of him? He can't breathe.'

Police charged McMillan with resisting arrest, a felony, and disorderly conduct. The teen’s attorney entered a plea of not guilty for his client and asked the court to reconsider the charges. The judge did not grant him his request.

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McMillan’s 6-week old puppy, who suffers an injured front paw, did not make the police report.

“At this point we are not concerned with a puppy,” said Zabaleta.


Steven Hsieh

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