Yesterday we discovered that the City of South Miami and it's police chief individually had been sued by Florida Highway Patrol officer Donna Watts for abusing the state of Florida's D.A.V.I.D. system to gain access to her personal information. According to what we've been able to dig up, the city and the chief settled the lawsuit for approximately $13,000. That's all well and good until one of our readers left us this comment...
If South Miami settled, why isn't there a filed voluntary dismissal? Also, the City Commission would have to approve the payment of the settlement, since it's over $5,000.I'm not sure why there hasn't been a dismissal filed yet, but I do know for certain that if the lawsuit was settled for any amount over $5,000 that the City Commission would have to approve the settlement. Unfortunately though after a search of all the commission meeting agendas since the lawsuit was filed, I see no mention of this settlement going before the commission. Now, I have to admit, I just scanned the commission agendas so I could have missed it, if anyone sees otherwise, let me know.
Now consider for a moment if I am right, what if the lawsuit was settled without the approval of the commission? How could such a thing have happened? If indeed it was settled without the commissions approval, is it possible that the whole deal was handled in such a way as to not bring any attention to the lawsuit? One thing we know for certain is that since the chief of police, Orlando Martinez de Castro, was named in the lawsuit individually, he had to have been served therefore he can't deny knowledge of the lawsuit. With that said, is it even plausible for this lawsuit and it's alleged settlement not to have made any noise within the city? Could this be another major cover up within the PD? We'll dig a little deeper and see what comes up.
We had another interesting comment from yesterdays post as well regarding the officer that actually used his D.A.V.I.D. privileges to look up Trooper Watts' personal information...
Another fact: South Miami PD Officer Armando Perez resigned after he was charged with accessing the trooper's info in D.A.V.I.D. three times.
For our readers from the City of South Miami PD, can anyone confirm this? If indeed Perez did resign after this lawsuit was filed, at the very least the timing of his resignation is suspect. What's funny about this whole deal is that Officer Perez is no stranger to controversy from the Miami Herald article back in November of last year...
Davidson-Schmich’s “nightmare” began on a sunny Thursday about 2 p.m. The German literature professor said he was riding his bicycle on his way home in a rush to watch a Euro Cup soccer game. He was riding westbound on Sunset Drive between the public library and City Hall, 6130 Sunset Dr., when he saw police officer Armando Perez make an illegal left turn.
But what Davidson-Schmich didn’t know was that the officer was responding to a 911 hang up call at Larkin Community Hospital, 7031 SW 62nd Ave., and was therefore allowed to make the left turn.
The father of two children said he wagged his index finger from left to right “to let the officer know that he should not do this.” But Perez said in his report Davidson-Schmich showed him the middle finger, followed him and then started “yelling profanities” as “a crowd of people started gathering and staring.” Davidson-Schmich said there was no such crowd. Police entered one witness statement into evidence.
Perez arrested Davidson-Schmich and took him to Miami-Dade County jail. Stoddard has photos that show bruises on Davidson-Schmich’s arm when he bonded out the next day.
But even if Davidson-Schmich did make a rude comment or gesture at a police officer, that’s not sufficient reason to make an arrest, said Baylor Johnson, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. Unless a gesture or speech is threatening, it is protected by the First Amendment, Johnson said.
About a week after the arrest, an officer found a witness, Michel Perez, a Larkin Community Hospital employee. He also corroborated much of the officer’s version, although some of the details were different. For example, the witness said the incident took place at 4:30 p.m., while, the police and Davidson-Schmich said it happened shortly before 2 p.m.
Davidson-Schmich was charged with disorderly conduct, a first degree misdemeanor. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office later changed the charge to resisting an officer without violence, also a first degree misdemeanor.
Isn't it funny how things work over at the South Miami PD? A guy gets arrested for allegedly giving a cop the finger? And how convenient, a week after the arrest the cops find a witness that saw the whole thing go down? Amazing how the South Miami PD has the resources to investigate this incident presumably for a full week before they found a witness who only partially corroborated Officer Perez's version of events. Regardless, if indeed Officer Perez is gone, it seems like Mr. Schmich got the last laugh.