The handcuffing and detainment by Miami police of an African American doctor who was trying to help the homeless has been found to be justified in an investigation of the incident, The New York Times reported.
Dr. Armen Henderson, who works for the University of Miami Health System, was unloading his van outside of his home on April 10 when an officer approached him and said there were “complaints of people dumping trash.”
A police memo dated May 4 stated in the months prior, residents of the area had filed more than a dozen complaints about illegal dumping there, according to the Times.
Henderson tried to explain that he was only unloading his vehicle when the officer, identified by the Times as Sgt. Mario Menegazzo, placed him in handcuffs.
“He said ‘you should refer to me as sir, or sergeant when talking to me.’ I never said I was a doctor. But I didn’t cuss. He just grabbed my arms and cuffed me,” Henderson told The Miami Herald at the time. He was eventually released.
But an internal Miami police investigation, ordered after Henderson complained to the Miami PD’s Civilian Investigative Panel, determined that because Mengazzo believed that Henderson was dumping trash in the neighborhood, he was justified in detaining him.
“As a sworn police officer, Sergeant Menegazzo had the right to detain Dr. Henderson until his reasonable suspicion that Dr. Henderson was dumping illegally was dispelled,” the police memo said.
Henderson has been praised for his efforts in helping the homeless including getting many indivuals coronavirus tests and delivering food and clothing. At the time he was handcuffed, he was loading tents into his van to take to homeless people.
He told the Times that he intends to file suit against the department, noting his disappointment with how the investigation turned out.
“I felt that it was ridiculous that, No. 1, that the stop was justified, and then the detainment was justified as well,” said Henderson. “It’s like, when are we going to start holding people accountable for their actions? I was very sad, very disgusted at the report I read.”
Although Henderson wasn’t successful in his original complaint, Menegazzo was deemed in violation of department rules when he yelled at Henderson and for not wearing a protective mask while doing so. It was unclear, according to the memo, if Menegazzo would be disciplined for those infractions.