Posted Dec. 7, 2007 - Witnesses say they saw police officers drag a 74-year-old respected civil rights leader from his home shortly before he landed in a Miami Beach hospital badly beaten and in a coma.
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The family of Bernard Dyer, a war vet, long-time social activist and advocate for the poor, say they want to know the circumstances that led to him having to fight for his life.
Speaking at a news conference called by several civil rights groups on Wednesday, Ethelda Dyer-Major, Dyer’s eldest daughter, said, “We’re just devastated beyond words that this could come from a so-called law enforcement (agency).
We’re just outraged.” Dyer-Major, who traveled from Kentucky Wednesday to be with her father, said that she and other family members spoke with officers by telephone letting them know that Dyer had periodic breakdowns and asked that he be left alone to recover, Miami’s Local 10 News reported.
Last Friday, Miami Beach Police were dispatched to Dyer’s apartment, but the details of exactly what occurred are blurry at best.
The building owner, according to the news channel, called 911 to report that Dyer had been seen walking naked in the lobby.
A police report says that Dyer threatened officers, saying he was going to shoot them. A weapon was never found.
The officers called for backup and a crisis negotiator trained to handle those with mental health issues.
They also called for a S.W.A.T. team, according to Local 10.
What happened next is anybody’s guess, since the police report offers nothing. But by the time officers left the scene seven to eight hours later, a badly bruised, swollen-faced Dyer was in critical condition.
Dyer’s apartment windows show tear-gas holes – but the report says nothing about tear gas.
Go to the next page to read more about Dyer's family's reaction.
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“We get no answers,” Dyer’s sister, Gloria Dyer-Davis, told the station. “The Gestapo tactics just come and do what they want to do and it’s over and done with.”
Miami Beach Police officials say an internal investigation is being conducted, thus they cannot comment on the case.
“Victims of excessive use of force, we see that primarily they are Black men and people with mental disability, so woe to somebody who is both,” said Brad Brown with the Miami chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, a local prosecutor, said in a statement that she shares “our community’s concern with the current medical condition of Mr. Bernard Dyer, and my hopes and prayers go out to him and his family.
I remain hopeful about his chances to recover, even as I recognize the extreme seriousness of his present condition.”
Rundle said that she has requested an autopsy in the event of Dyer’s death.
Do you think police used excessive force against Dyer?