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State Attorney’s Office Won’t Press Charges Against Miami Gardens Officers

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(Source: Alex Saleh)

(Source: Alex Saleh)

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Lauren Pastrana joined CBS Miami in April 2012 as a reporter. Sh...
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South Florida Crime

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office won’t charge Miami Gardens officers with any crimes following an investigation into harassment complaints made by a convenience store owner, which have since become the basis of a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The 207 Quickstop owner Alex Saleh submitted videos to the Miami Gardens police department which he claims show officers harassing his customers and employees.

Those videos were reviewed by an investigator at the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

In a close-out memo dated November 14, 2013, the state concluded “the video did not show any criminal actions by the police.”

The State Attorney’s Office has been investigating the allegations since last year, after Saleh installed security cameras to catch cops in action.

“I’ve seen the outrageous police abusing people in the community,” Saleh said in an interview with CBS4 last month. “They’ve been treating people wrong.”

The state’s memo closing the case said, “Mr. Saleh provided some edited surveillance to the Miami Gardens Police Department. He claimed other video was not available as it had been erased or could not be recovered.”

CBS4 has obtained several of those videos.

In at least three of them, cops are seen leading Earl Sampson out of the 207 Quickstop.

He was charged with trespassing on multiple occasions, but Saleh said Sampson works there.

“The complainant claims Mr. Sampson was an employee, but can produce no records to support that claim,” the state’s close-out memo said. “At best, Mr. Sampson was an off-the-books day laborer.”

Saleh’s attorney, Steve Lopez with the Reyes Law Group, said the state’s investigation is completely independent of the federal civil rights lawsuit, which alleges officers are systematically profiling, stopping, frisking, questioning and arresting people, mostly young black males, in the city for no reason.

“Although Police Officers can be imprisoned for Federal Civil Rights Violations, those types of violations are prosecuted by the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice; not the Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Office,” Lopez said in a statement. “Any criminal liability would be determined by the U.S. Department of Justice and currently no complaint has been filed with them.”

According to the state’s memo, Saleh previously signed a “Zero Tolerance Zone” agreement allowing police to make trespass arrests at his property.

Saleh said he revoked that agreement, claiming police used the permission to harass patron and employees.

We reached out to the police department for comment, but have not heard back.

City manager Cameron Benson told CBS4 last week an internal investigation has been launched as a result of the lawsuit.

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