MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami doctor who went from testing the homeless for COVID-19 to being cuffed in front of his home is explaining what he thinks led to the situation and what he’s worried about now.
“I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t cuss. And I thought I was for the circumstances, I thought I handled myself very well,” said Dr. Armen Henderson.
Dr. Henderson has found himself in the national spotlight after sharing a video of what occurred in front of his Miami home Friday.
“He took me in front of the car and proceeded to belittle me and yell in my face, and to tell me that I should call him sergeant or sir,” he explained. “Pointing his finger in my face, I could feel saliva from him yelling on my lips.”
Henderson has been on the front lines during the coronavirus crisis, assisting South Florida’s most vulnerable populations. He was unloading trash on the curb for pickup when the officer pulled up.
“I don’t know what exactly made him get out of the car and then put handcuffs on me after he got out of the car,” Henderson said.
Miami’s police chief was quick to issue a statement in reaction to the video.
“We have a litany of complaints pertaining to illegal dumping. The commissioner of that area has received numerous complaints. There is a cargo van that is parking in front of that home where there appears to be trash that is being unloaded. That is the genesis of the stop. Now what happens after that, what was discussed, the actions taken – all that needs to be investigated,” said Chief Jorge Colina.
The department has ordered an internal investigation. Henderson absolutely believes he was profiled, but he’s more concerned that an officer put his life at risk without a mask or social distancing.
“It’s just a public health concern that police officers are ready to engage with people over something so minor,” he said.
Henderson is speaking up because he’s heard of similar instances of officers targeting people who cannot protect themselves.
“There are vulnerable populations that deal with this stuff every day,” he said. “Even though it’s a pandemic, just like the police officer who put me in handcuffs, they are taking are taking homeless people to jail for sheltering in place. There are no other options at this point.”
Henderson plans to hold a press conference Friday asking the county and city politicians to step up for the homeless or those who have nowhere to shelter in place.
He’s also filed a lawsuit against the city over what happened in front of his home.