MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson held a press conference Wednesday morning to say one of his officers has been relieved of duty pending an investigation.
“The Officer has been relieved of duty,” Dobson told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “I have also spoken with the family involved. We are very serious about this investigation. It will be transparent and professionally done. The officer had no warrant. At that time he would have needed either verbal consent from the homeowner or a written warrant from the judge.”
It all started when an Opa-locka couple posted a video on Facebook last Thursday showing a police detective entering their apartment face covered, holding a gun and they say what is most disturbing of all, is that it all happened in front of their young child.
Chief Dobson did not identify the officer because of the nature of his job. He works undercover. Dobson said the detective had been with his department for about 15 years and had had no serious issues in the past.
Dobson said police were in the area because a caller claimed there was a person with a chrome handgun who was making threats to people and so they had to respond by knocking on the doors at several apartments.
“The Crime Stoppers tip came in about a white male harassing residents,” he said. “Anytime a gun is involved there is a danger to the officer and to the community.”
Dobson also expressed concern about the victim’s cell phone being swatted away while the officer was inside the apartment.
Other city officials, including Mayor Matthew Pigatt and City Manager John Pate were very vocal about the need to be proactive and having transparency.
Pigatt said, “The new administration in the city of Opa-locka seeks to be the most transparent in the state of Florida.”
“They (police) have a thankless job to do with very little resources and they have a lot on their shoulders. I will not allow this incident to deter or blacken the clouds over the city,” said Pate. He promised a thorough investigative that would be proactive.
The man who recorded the video says the detective entered his apartment without a warrant.
“How he handled the situation was just like he tried to force his authority on us. Like, he snatched the phone and I was trying to record him. As he was going out the door he kind of snatched the phone,” said Jeffrey Byron.
Dobson says police were at the apartment complex along NW 22nd Avenue near Opa-locka Boulevard to check on a Crime Stoppers tip.
“The door was already open because we heard a loud noise about two doors down,” Byron said.
This couple wanted the detective to be punished.
He and his girlfriend Stephanie Crespo told D’Oench that they were relieved that the detective had been relieved of duty with pay.
“I am more focused on him being off the street,” said Byron.
“This is not the only time that people have made complaints about this officer. This situation was real crazy and he was a loose cannon. I was worried about my son Byron Junior, who is just 8 months old, being in a walker and a gun that was pointed towards him. I was telling the officer I know my rights and I know you need consent without a warrant. I have a brother who is an attorney and I am considering a lawsuit.”
“It’s just him that needs to because he was like too aggressive,” said Byron.
Byron says thankfully there was another officer there who he knew how to help with the situation.
Crespo said, “I was scared. He barged in our apartment and I am glad he is relieved of duty and I hope it stays like that.”
The detective is represented by the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association.
PBA President Steadman Stahl told CBS that there have been a number of shootings at and near the apartment complex and he said that Opa-locka can be very dangerous for officers.
“The detective was responding to a Crime Stoppers tip about a man with a gun and unfortunately he went into the wrong apartment,” said Stahl.