Did Coral Gables Police Department officers lie? Videos show they did, attorney says

Real estate broker alleges mistreatment by off-duty Coral Gables officers

By Amy Viteri - Investigative Reporter

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Video given exclusively to Local 10 News shows Mike Gonzalez being roughed up and arrested by Coral Gables police while he was out with friends.

Gonzalez said the evening started at one of his favorite restaurants, the now-closed Tarpon Bend on Miracle Mile. Gonzalez, a real estate broker, said he was sitting at a booth with friends in the still-packed bar when two police officers, who were working as off-duty security, told him to leave. 

"He said, 'Get the [expletive] out,'" Gonzalez said about the August 2017 incident. 

It was just after midnight. Gonzalez said he was a regular at the restaurant and had spent over $400 that night. He said at no point did anyone tell him to leave before the police officers approached them.

Video shows the group standing up. He said it was still unclear why they were being singled out. Things then escalated quickly. The video shows Gonzalez's friend speaking to the officers before they suddenly push him and take him to the ground. 

"One of the officers tried to grab his hand and he just lifted his hand up, and when he did that the officer decided to tackle him to the floor," Gonzalez said, adding the officer deployed a Taser gun three times. 

Stunned, Gonzalez said he took out his cellphone to record. Video shows another bar patron in a red shirt walking over to Gonzalez and pushing him in the face and chest. He said he later learned that man was David Rhodes, an off-duty Miami-Dade Schools Police Department officer.

"He comes, decides to push me and assault me," Gonzalez said.  

A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Schools said Rhodes and another police officer were witnesses who were not involved and were not disciplined. 

The incident report says a Detective Zaccheo and Officer Miguelez were the ones working at the restaurant that night. Then Coral Gables Police Sgt. Kevin Kelley responded to the restaurant because of the "disturbance."

In the report, Kelley reported trying to push Gonzalez back but said Gonzalez smacked his hands and refused to comply. 

"I did not at all, and we have four different angles of videos to prove it," Gonzalez said. 

Video shows Gonzalez was holding onto the railing during the exchange until several officers forcefully pushed him out of the restaurant. 

"They ripped my shirt, embarrassed me in front of everybody," Gonzalez said. 

Officers initially charged him with battery on a police officer, resisting with violence and trespassing after a warning. Attorney Hilton Napoleon II represented Gonzalez. Last month, a judge ruled there was no evidence to show that Gonzalez committed the crimes and acquitted him of the charges. 

"The most striking thing is that the officer claimed that he told my client to leave two to three times before the altercation," Napoleon said. "In the video you can clearly see that he walked past our client and didn’t say anything to him and when you fabricate that kind of information and when you go in front of a jury and lie about it, somebody has to be held accountable."

Kelley has a history of complaints and was demoted in March to the rank of officer for allegedly failing to report sexual harassment he witnessed. An attorney for Kelley, Eugene Gibbons, disputed the details surrounding his demotion and said they are appealing. 

Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak said by phone the department takes all complaints seriously. In a statement, he wrote, "internal affairs has been instructed to look into the issue and the court proceedings."

Gonzalez has taken legal action but said he still wonders why officers picked his table that night. 

"I don’t want anybody else to go through this situation again," Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez also filed an official complaint with the Coral Gables Police Department against all of the officers involved. 
 

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