Blind, Busted & Need A Ride Home? Don’t Call Miami Cops
November 7, 2016 (Fault Lines) — Because of relevant precedent, the police have no duty “to Protect and Serve” civilians citizens. Officers can protect and serve to their heart’s content, but the law does not include a mandate that they do so. This concept, which is alien and shocking to most who are outside the legal trenches, was reported earlier this year by Almirante Greenfield at Simple Justice.
The case involving Naranja resident Tannie Burke, who is blind and was left by Miami cops to walk home after being arrested for having a lil’ bit of demon weed, confirms that notion. Despite all the American folklore involving cops, cats and trees, and notwithstanding popular depictions of police dining in diners, they are indictment-proof should they stand by (no pun) while you, let’s say, drown in a lake. The Miami Herald reports on a case that would make Norman Rockwell weep:
Miami-Dade officers Clifton Baldwin and Julio Martos both claimed, through their attorneys, that they did not know Tannie Burke, 23, was blind when they left him on a street in August 2014 after slapping him with a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
Burke had to stagger home — he estimated he encountered some 20 cars during the dangerous walk. Ultimately, a good Samaritan helped him walk home.
In a final report released this week, prosecutors said they could not disprove that cops’ claim that they didn’t know Burke was blind, even though his stepfather can be heard in a cellphone video telling them he is blind during an eight-minute tirade against the officers. They state said it could not file a charge of culpable negligence because “encountering roughly 20 cars is insufficient to prove [the allegations] beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Poor Burke was left to his own devices in the mean streets of Naranja (español for orange) after Baldwin and Martos got a call for a more “serious” threat nearby. Burke was told to take a walk on the wild side, while Baldwin and Martos took a ride in same. They let him sign a “Promise to Appear,” or PTA, in lieu of taking him down to the station where Burke would have lost four hours that he would never get back. But how could he “sign”? I’ve practiced in south Florida for a minute or two, but I’ve yet to see a MDPD arrest report written in Braille.
Burke’s case would’ve probably ended up in a pretrial diversion program which, while it would result in his case being eventually dismissed, would further and needlessly drain the state’s coffers because of another senseless marijuana arrest. What’s “worse,” should Burke have been “caught” with a larger amount of illicit herb, some ingenious CDL would’ve found a way for Burke to be referred to drug court, where his case would linger for few months before its dismissal.
Only the most cynical (Fault Lines contributor or not) would chuckle at the picture of Burke stumbling home while 20 cars “encounter” him, honks blaring and curses flying. Naranja is a suburb of Miami, so it’s likely that 20 bad Samaritans let him be whilst they went about their business. Talk about willful blindness on the part of Burke’s fellow primates. At long last, have south Florida residents left no sense of decency?
Miami prosecutors considered charging these two bozos with a misdemeanor charge of “culpable negligence,” which proscribes “exposing another person to personal injury.” That’s a very broad criminal statute that sounds so … civil-ly. It would probably all come down to a “he said, they said” during trial, where if the jury believed the cops that they were not privy to Burke being sightless, it would likely result in a two-word verdict. The state (the lower case of the “s” is deliberate) could’ve sought to introduce into evidence Burke’s uncle’s phone call to the cops where he told them Burke was unsighted, but the prosecutor is right when he says that they may not be enough to get a conviction.
There’s a cool “stop snitching” twist to Burke cases that’s enveloped in irony:
The officers also claimed Burke didn’t want to be dropped off by his home so that neighbors wouldn’t think he was a “snitch” getting out of police car. Burke denies that.
Nevertheless, Baldwin and Martos dropped him off at intersection; it took him about a half-an-hour to get home, walking against traffic so he could make out the light of oncoming cars. It took him more than 30 minutes to find his way home.
Ceteris paribus, things could’ve turned out worse, much, much worse for Burke. He lives to “see” another day while Baldwin and Martos remain on the streets doing what they do best: confiscating bits of marijuana and the like so as to painlessly improve the crime statistics.
It’s not like someone died because of their malfeasance, because of their refusal to lend a basic human hand to Burke, but that doesn’t make them exempt from Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade’s suggestion for those who cower and hide when stuff hits the fan.