MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) -Two sisters from Toronto say they were assaulted and insulted with profane comments by two Miami Beach Officers when they were arrested for resisting arrest without violence just before Christmas.
It’s a story making headlines in Toronto but the Police Chief of Miami Beach tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that the charges are unfounded and that the case was investigated thoroughly.
“They called us dirty Canadians and said we had HIV because we were from Canada,” said 24-year-old Angelina Mastrangelo. She told D’Oench, “They asked me how much I weighed and said I was Miss Piggy.”
“They called me a dirty whore, a slut,” said her sister, 20-year-old Michele Mastrangelo.
According to police, six-year veteran officers Edward Alba and William Beeker confronted the women after a smell of marijuana was coming from the beach side of the Ritz Carlton Hotel on the night of December 23rd, 2012.
The sisters say they were with three men, including 18-year-old Jodee Hopkins. They say they had been bar hopping and say the men were smoking in marijuana. Hopkins was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
“They told us we were under arrest for drinking, which we were not,” said Angelina Mastrangelo. “I said ‘why are you taking us to jail?’ And one officer pushed me up against the wall and then flipped me over on the ground on my back. And this officer was huge on top of me. I had to push him off.” I felt very humiliated and degraded. I have never been in trouble before, and I was in a cell with hookers and prostitutes.”
“I felt very helpless watching this,” said Michele Mastrangelo. “I couldn’t do anything because they were police officers. This was disgusting and I also felt degraded. I think something should be done like maybe they should lose their jobs. This was not fair.”
Surveillance tape released by Miami Beach Police shows the two sisters jumping up and down and dancing after their arrest.
“I can’t explain their behavior,” said Police Chief Raymond Martinez. “They were acting strange and out of character.”
The officers said the sisters appeared “irate and unruly” and they were concerned for their own sister. One of the officers displayed a taser in case they had to use it. They did not.
Chief Martinez told D’Oench that the case was thoroughly investigated and the allegations were unfounded.
“We take all allegations seriously and this was thoroughly investigated,” said Martinez. “It’s troubling to me as a Chief and troubling for the officers when false allegations like this are made.”
“The sisters filed a complaint but they refused to give a sworn statement,” said Martinez. “My concern is to clear the name of the officers and clear the name of Miami Beach.”
Other surveillance tape released by police shows an officer in the processing room escorting Michele Mastrangelo to a bathroom. But she refused to use it and instead relieved herself on one of the seats.
“This video shows how on three separate occasions she was taken to use the restroom,” said Martinez.
“I told the female officer that I was not going to let her pull my tampon out of me,” said Michele. “Plus she was going to keep the door open so other people could see me. So I went to the bathroom on the seat. This whole thing was disgusting. We were in custody for 11 hours.”
Michele Mastrangelo was charged with disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest without violence and criminal mischief. Angelina Mastrangelo was charged with resisting arrest without violence.
They appeared in a Miami-Dade courtroom on Thursday where they were ordered to perform 25 hours of community service each in Canada.
The sisters said this experience should not deter them from coming to Miami Beach, which they’ve been doing for the past six years. They said they are considering a lawsuit, even though the Police Chief says there was no wrongdoing by his officers.
Officer Alba is a veteran who served in Iraq. The Chief also said Officer Beeker used to be a New York City cop.