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Updated: UMPD completes internal investigation, officers acted “lawfully and properly”

The University of Miami Police Department completed the internal investigation involving two officers who held a student at gunpoint, and in agreement with the Coral Gables Police and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office (SAO), decided the officers acted lawfully and properly in the situation.

“The safety of our students is paramount,” said Karla Hernandez, the university’s director of media relations. “We deeply regret that the student was detained in what became a case of mistaken identity. The university is recommending administrative procedures that includes re-training and counseling for the officers involved to stress appropriate interaction in a campus environment.”

The UMPD sent the tape to the SAO to be investigated but state prosecutors said no crime or violation had occurred.

“We have reviewed the matter and referred it back to campus police for their own administrative review,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for the SAO. “Clearly, the police had sufficient probable cause to legally justify his actions.”

Junior transfer student Jordan Chusid, the student who was misidentified as the motorcycle thief, doesn’t agree with the decision made by the police department.

“This whole thing has been a long, drawn out and very strange situation,” he said. “I think the fact they are going to get no penalty is just ridiculous. My father is actually going to take action.”

According to the UMPD’s incident report, the owner of the motorcycle received a message from Lojack saying his motorcycle had been “disturbed.” The owner, who had been in a law school class, checked on his bike, which was parked near the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre.

He discovered that some wires had been cut and he called the campus police.

The police immediately reviewed surveillance video of the area and issued an alert for officers to be on the lookout for a “white Latin male, with dark hair, wearing a red shirt with a design, plaid shorts, and black shoes,” and a “thin Latin male, with dark hair, wearing a brown shirt with a design and blue jeans.”

A university security guard, Jonathan Bazoalto, spotted Chusid, a political science major who happened to match the description, leaving the Merrick Building. Chusid began in the direction of Mahoney Residential College, but suddenly stopped and headed the opposite way. Bazoalto then contacted police.

Officers Marc Werbin and Wilbur Foster detained Chusid at gunpoint in the School of Communication breezeway, cuffed him and took him to a table to be questioned. Several minutes later, police released Chusid.

UMPD has not found the two suspects involved in the attempted motorcycle theft, according to Rivero.

Contacted yesterday, Mitchel Chusid, the student’s father who also happens to be a lawyer, said that even though the officers may not have committed a crime, he has “a real huge problem” with their actions.

“There is no way they should have drawn guns,” he said. “It was absolutely uncalled for and reprehensible.”

Chusid said Jordan has always wanted to be a Hurricane and has no plans to leave the school.

“I agree police should have guns on campus, but you shouldn’t abuse your power,” Chusid Jordan said.

September 2, 2009

Reporters

Megan Terilli

Contributing EDGE Writer


3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Updated: UMPD completes internal investigation, officers acted “lawfully and properly””

  1. Dave says:

    “First of all, I consider myself to be a liberal democrat. I am completely for gun control, banning assault weapons, reforming the criminal justice system…the whole nine yards. What I am NOT for is criticizing and second guessing those who put themselves in harms way and have sworn to protect and serve.”

    Before I say anything else, let me say that just because someone wears a badge along with that gun on their hip, it doesn’t make them any better than the regular citizens who legally carry.

    “What if he had a weapon (which now days is a fair assumption considering that many criminals are armed)?” – I also feel compelled to add that criminals love unarmed victims.

    Anyways, I wasn’t there, and that video hardly gives a good view of what happened. So as far as I’m concerned people ought to relax and move on.

    & Mike, I agree that the University’s response is contradictory.

  2. David says:

    First of all, I consider myself to be a liberal democrat. I am completely for gun control, banning assault weapons, reforming the criminal justice system…the whole nine yards. What I am NOT for is criticizing and second guessing those who put themselves in harms way and have sworn to protect and serve.

    Ask yourself what if: What if I were one of those police officers? What if I were acting on the information they had? What if he was the criminal? What if he had a weapon (which now days is a fair assumption considering that many criminals are armed)?
    Now after asking all those questions, answer this question: How would I have responded?
    If you say the officers acted improperly, what should they have done? What would you have done?

    We have all seen the police videos of officers assaulted, stabbed, shot, even killed. They have a job to do and their lives depend on making split second decisions. They don’t have the luxury of spending hours or days to analyze a situation. They have to act; the consequences of inaction could be death.

    We all know how violent and dangerous Miami is. If you don’t, how about you walk down Grand Avenue to the get to the Grove? I promise you will do it only once. And that area is within a few miles of the University. Now ask yourself: why is this campus not like that? Who do you think keeps it from being that way?

    The cops were professional, they didn’t use profanities, they didn’t abuse the student, and they released him once they realized he wasn’t the criminal. What more do you want? If they were unprofessional and abusive and tried to cover the whole thing up (which has happened, and we have all seen those videos as well) then I would be the first one on the bandwagon to burn them at the stake…but that isn’t the case here.

    Would you prefer that they do nothing and let criminals run wild because there’s a chance that they might not get everything right all of the time? Do you get everything right all of the time? I know I don’t, my physics midterm from last semester will attest to that.

    Avoid the hype, the sensationalizing, the opinions of those who don’t know what they are talking about. Use your brain, think for yourself, and look beyond what others tell you…that’s why we’re going to college to begin with. If you disagree speak up. If you agree tell me. Just don’t let other form your opinions for you.

  3. Mike Rosenthal says:

    The response from the university is contradictory. If the officers acted “properly,” why would they need “re-training and counseling?”

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.