Miami Gardens store owner Alex Saleh has enacted his own form of “zero tolerance.” Saleh installed 15 cameras to catch outrageous police behavior on video — including against his own store clerk, who was stopped and questioned more than 250 times by Miami Gardens police, 60 times for trespassing.
In addition to repeated questioning, Earl Sampson was searched more than 100 times and arrested and jailed 56 times, the Miami Herald reported.
“I never felt they had any probable cause,” Sampson told the Herald. “They hop out of the car and search me before they even ask me for my name.”
“The same one stop me 2 and 3 times a day,” he told CBS Miami. “I feel like I can’t even be in my own neighborhood anymore.”
Saleh said his Quickstop convenience store has never been robbed — he installed the cameras in June of 2012 to protect himself, his employees and his customers from the police.
“I seen the outrageous police abusing people in the community,” Saleh told CBS. “They’ve been treating the people wrong.”
He has since amassed more than two dozen videos. The Herald obtained some of them, along with Sampson’s 38-page criminal history, which includes one marijuana possession charge among many charges that were never pursued by prosecutors.
In addition to the aggression Sampson experienced at the hands of police, the videos show officers stopping and questioning citizens, searching them, arresting them for trespassing without reason, using what appears to be excessive force on people who are not resisting arrest, filing inaccurate police reports and searching Saleh’s store without a warrant.
Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Florida, said the Miami Gardens police chief has not done his job in stepping in.
“Where is the police chief in all this? In a police department in a city this size, this kind of behavior could not escape his attention,” Simon said.
“Doesn’t the City Commission know that they are exposing the city to either massive liability for civil rights violations? Either that, or they are going to wake up one day and find the U.S. Department of Justice has taken over its police department.”
Saleh, Sampson and their attorney Steve Lopez are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department.