Miami Gardens police have stopped and questioned a 28-year-old Florida black man a total of 258 times in four years, reports the Miami Herald.
In addition to the stops, Earl Sampson has been searched over 100 times and arrested 56 times. The instances have even followed him to his place of work – the 207 Quickstop – where Sampson has been arrested for trespassing 62 times even though he works at the convenience store as a clerk. But out of all of these arrests, searches and stops, Sampson’s most serious conviction remains possession of marijuana.
Concerned about the number of times he’s witnessed Sampson as well as other Quickstop workers and patrons be arrested and stopped by police, the store’s owner Alex Saleh installed 15 video cameras in his store to assist him in determining exactly why Miami Gardens police continued to target the same individuals. He also hoped to offer some form of protection to his customers and staff from what he describes as “selective enforcement” from the officers.
According to the Herald, most of the people stopped are poor and black. And some of them have been stopped and frisked as many as three times a day in the predominately black neighborhood. "There is just no justifying this kind of behavior," police policy consultant Chuck Drago told the publication. "Nobody can justify overstepping the constitution to fight crime."
In the videos, cops can be seen searching and arresting employees and patrons of the business, even though they are violating no laws. They are also shown searching the business without warrants as well as roughing up people who aren’t resisting arrest.
Saleh even claims he has been harassed by officers, in one instance being stopped by six officers for a burnt tag light on his vehicle.
"I thought, you know, there is a lot of serious crime in Miami Gardens," he said. "Why do they need six police officers on a car stop with a burned-out tag light?” In that incident, he received a citation for a burnt tag light, tinted windows and bald tires.
Saleh and his lawyer, Steve Lopez, are now readying a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department. They claim the department instructed officers to undertake in illegal stops of individuals and racial profiling. And he hopes the video footage will help him win his case. The Miami Gardens Police Department hasn’t yet commented on the suit and claims of racial profiling.