NAACP wants probe of 'harassment' by Miami Gardens police

Store owner claims officer harass his employees, customers

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - The NAACP wants the attorney general and Department of Justice to investigate "harassment" of African Americans by Miami Gardens police officers.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and three others, the organization called for the probe after a convenience store owner, Alex Saleh, claimed videos show "police regularly questioning, frisking, and arresting people who not only have permission to be on the property, but also have not committed any crimes."

"Over the past four years, one of Mr. Saleh's employees, Earl Sampson, 28, has been arrested more than 100 times, including 62 arrests for loitering and trespassing even including occasions when he was stocking store shelves," wrote Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State Conference. "Even after filing the report, one of the officers who Mr. Sampson had complained about, Michael Malone, continued to harass a customer who was part of the complaint.  This type of police misconduct has resulted in employees like Mr. Sampson having a 38 page criminal file filled with a substantial number of charges that were never pursued by prosecutors, which itself is a strong indicator of police misconduct in Miami Gardens."

Saleh has since filed a lawsuit against the city. Last week, Police Chief Matthew Boyd defended his officers.

"It's a quality of life issue," said Boyd. "We get a lot of complaints from that store. We had a homicide there, narcotic possession, open containers."

The letter says that Saleh found more than 27 videos.

"This video archive documents what may be the most pervasive, most invasive, and most unjustified pattern of police harassment in the nation," the letter reads. "Absent federal oversight and intervention, the NAACP has no confidence that the Miami Gardens Police Department or other city officials will willingly conduct a complete and impartial investigation. We therefore call upon you to deploy personnel to Miami Gardens immediately to uncover all of the facts, determine whether federal laws have been violated, prosecute those responsible, and ensure that new procedures are implemented to prevent recurrences and effectively reduce crime without abusive tactics."

The department is conducting an internal investigation, Boyd said last week.

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