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Miami Beach ACLU Settles With Miami Beach Over Wrongful Arrest

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(Source: CBS)

(Source: CBS)

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MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – The American Civil Liberties Union has reached a settlement with the City of Miami Beach and two of the city’s police officers for the wrongful arrest of Harold Strickland, a gay former Miami Beach resident.

Under the settlement reached Monday, the city will pay Strickland $75,000 and enact new policies that deal with the reporting of police misconduct.

According to the suit, Miami Beach officers Frankly Forte and Elliot Hazzi arrested Strickland in March 2009 after he called 911 to report that he saw the two officers beat and kick a man who lay handcuffed on the ground near Flamingo Park last year.

Strickland claims the officers made anti-gay remarks and accused him attempting to break into parked cars. He was charged with prowling and loitering.

“Lots of gay bashing words were used,” said ACLU legal director Randall Marshall told CBS4 when the suit was filed in November of 2010. “The department unfortunately has a history of arresting and harassing gay men for doing nothing more than being gay in Flamingo Park.”

When pressed, Marshall said his evidence was complaints against the Miami Beach Police Department.

The ACLU said evidence including the tape recording of Strickland’s 911 call, Strickland’s cell phone record, and the officers’ own arrest affidavits, indicates that the officers lied in their report of the incident in order to cover-up their misconduct. Prosecutors dropped all charges against Strickland in October 2009.

The city moved last week to terminate both Forte and Hazzi because of the incident.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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