MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Police documents show one of the police officers involved in a traffic stop scuffle with another officer has a history of discipline with the department.
The incident was caught on officer Marcel Jackson’s personal video camera which was mounted on the dashboard of his patrol car. The video, obtained by the blog, Crespogram.com, show’s officer Jackson pulling over an alleged speeder in June. It appears to be on Southwest 7th Street in Little Havana.
A short time after Officer Jackson reaches the driver’s window, the video shows the motorist pushing the front door open against the officer and confronting him. The immediately engage in a tussle, going to the ground. Other officers quickly arrive.
What no one knew, at least for a while, is the driver who was pulled over was Miami police Lieutenant David Ramras – who was assigned to internal affairs, which investigates other officers.
Officer Jackson’s dash cam recorded a call he made to an colleague shortly after the incident.
“I was like, stay in the car!” Jackson can be heard saying on the call. “And he’s like ‘I’m lieutenant of the police, I’m lieutenant of the police!’ And he pushes his way out. I’m like, ‘I don’t know who you are, bro, you don’t jump out on me. I don’t care if you are a lieutenant or whatever you are.'”
After the incident, Ramras was reassigned to an administrative position in another department. Jackson was relieved of duty.
In a statement Police Chief Manuel Orosa defended that decision citing, in part, each officer’s work history. According to the chief, Ramras has been with the department for 28 years and received two reprimands and two citizen complaints. The chief said Jackson has been with the department for eight years and had 15 reprimands, 20 citizen complaints, and four records of formal counseling. The chief said Jackson’s discipline involved 400 hours of suspension.
Jackson’s personnel file shows incidents starting in 2006 and includes accusations like making a false statement to a supervisor, discourtesy, taking four days to turn in a confiscated firearm, and failure to attend court. It was also noted he failed to comply with the shaving policy.
In more than one instance, the documents show Jackson appealed his suspensions and they were reversed.
We reached out to Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police, but were told the union has no comment on this case or Jackson’s history of discipline.
Jackson’s lawyer Scott Srebnick released this statement: Unlike Lt. Ramras, Ofc. Jackson has worked the streets his entire career in some of the most dangerous and crime ridden areas of Miami. His performance evaluations have always been positive. He has never been reprimanded for excessive use of force. It is ironic the Chief is citing Officer Jackson’s use of profanity when Lt. Ramras can be heard on videotape repeatedly using profanity. What does the Chief intend to do about that?
Did Jackson react appropriately in this case? Former Miami Police Chief Kenneth Harms viewed the video for CBS4 News. Harms, a national- recognized police consultant, says the uniformed cop behaved appropriately.
“What would you do under the circumstances, if your were an officer and you feared for your life or your safety,” Harms told CBS4’s Gary Nelson. “You would immediately try to control the situation so you could go home at the end of your tour of duty.”
Harms says any driver – certainly a police lieutenant – should know better than to jump out on a cop.
“It would be inappropriate for him to literally open the door on the police officer. That would be a threatening move to the average officer who would fear for his own personal safety,” Harms said.
Officer Jackson says the driver briefly flashed a badge before barging out of the car. But Harms said any good cop knows fake cops are common.
Flashing a badge “doesn’t get it,” Harms said.
Lots of police brass showed up on the scene of the incident. The lieutenant was allowed to go. According to Crespogram.com no incident report was written.
“It is an open, on-going internal affairs case, so we are not commenting at this time,” said Sergeant Freddie Cruz.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, issued a statement saying it provided legal counsel for both officers. The FOP is representing the lieutenant, but Ofc. Jackson chose to hire his own attorney, Scott Srebnick, who told CBS4 News neither he nor his client are commenting as yet.
FOP President Javier Ortiz declined to comment on the record as to the circumstances of the clash between the two officers, but noted that Jackson passed on an opportunity to meet with public corruption investigators at the state attorney’s office, with a union attorney present to advise him.
A police department source told CBS4 News Jackson doesn’t trust the FOP or department administration to fairly investigate the incident. The state attorney’s office is conducting a parallel investigation.
Miami police cars are not equipped with dash cameras. Officer Jackson had a personal dash cam to cover himself in the event he needed it.