Miami, FL -- A former police chief and several officers have been indicted for falsely charging a black teenager with four burglaries just to show village leaders that they are good at "solving" crimes. While the indictment reads like a Hollywood movie script about bad cops, it's only the tip of the iceberg in a deep cesspool of corruption that is the Biscayne Park Police Department.
A scathing report from the Miami Herald details that on multiple occasions, former chief Raimundo Atesiano told his cops to target random black people and charge them with crimes in open cases so they could boast their clearance rate -- which is defined as the amount of open cases solved by the department.
“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglaries,” one cop, Anthony De La Torre, said in an internal probe ordered in 2014, according to the Herald. “They were basically doing this to have a 100% clearance rate for the city.”
On top of framing innocent black teenagers for dozens of crimes they never committed, the department was a place where cops openly drank on duty, practiced shady financial schemes, and had no problem bragging about their racism and sexism.
Investigations revealed that the second in command, Capt. Lawrence Churchman, routinely spouted racist and sexist insults and suffered no recourse.
“The captain has said on several different occasions he doesn’t want anyn-----s, f-----s or women b-----s working at Biscayne Park,” officer Thomas Harrison said according to the report.
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According to the Herald, over the last decade, the department has also seen an officer arrested on charges of holding his wife hostage, a troubled officer sued for excessive force and another officer charged with beating a suspect.
During the years the cops were framing innocent black people for crimes of which they had no evidence, the clearance rate for the department was nearly perfect. Illustrating how many of the cases were pinned on innocent people, after the chief left, the department never solved a single one of the 19 burglary cases.
Naturally, Atesiano is denying the allegations and he and two other officers who have been formerly indicted have all pleaded not guilty. But, according to sources, former officers Raul Fernandez and Charlie Dayoub are cooperating behind the scenes to lay blame on their former boss.
Despite the new chief, Luis Cabrera, claiming to have cleaned up the department, for his second in command, he hired a problem cop that was embroiled in the old racist and corrupt department.
As the Herald points out:
In June, the village hired as its top cop Luis Cabrera, a former high-ranking Miami police officer. He says he’s audited the evidence room, restructured the command staff and is getting civil-rights training for officers. Cabrera made Wollschlager his second-in-command, despite being entangled in the 2014 internal investigation.
The investigation concluded Wollschlager drank on duty and ordered suspect burglary arrests. But the department’s new chief reversed course and cleared Wollschlager. He left the Biscayne Park force this spring for a command post in North Bay Village, but was soon let go after news broke about the indictment of Atesiano and the other officers. Cabrera said he decided to rehire Wollschlager in June.