The Hialeah Police Department spoke out Thursday about allegations that officers are harassing a man who plans on running for mayor of that city.
This week NBC 6 viewers saw two videos shot by Juan Santana. One showed retired Hialeah cop Glenn Rice outside of Santana's house with a cell phone camera asking him "Are you fat?" The other video showed Officer Sandra St. Germain removing the expired tag of Santana's girlfriend’s car that was parked outside of his house because her license had been suspended for lack of insurance.
"They claim that they are being singled out and all we want is compliance with the law," said Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby.
According to the police report issued on April 8, the officer took the tag and cited a statute that attorney Ted Hollander says does not apply to parked cars. He said the car had to be driven by the owner, Jessica Montanez, for it to be seized.
"Running around unscrewing tags off parked vehicles is completely not allowed by Florida law," Hollander said.
On Thursday, Hialeah Police said a detective had seen Montanez driving the car earlier but was conducting another investigation, so he asked Officer St. Germain to go retrieve the tag.
"The letter of the statute prefers it to be while they are operating the motor vehicle, but we feel confident enough that an officer had witnessed her driving the vehicle and she seized the tag in this manner," Zogby said.
Santana responded Thursday by saying his girlfriend's license was not suspended at the time. But police said her driver's license was suspended February 18. The tag was seized on April 8 and reinstated April 12.
Cops also gave NBC 6 a list of 156 calls to the Santana house since 1995 and 31 incident reports involving Juan Santana, which they said prove they are not singling him out, just asking him to follow the law.
Santana said "in this country we are innocent ’til proven guilty," and that most of the cases have been dismissed.
The Hialeah Police Department is standing by St. Germain, a 37-year veteran officer, saying what she did spared Montanez from being arrested. They said that had she been caught driving the vehicle, they would have had to send her to jail and tow her car.
NBC 6 requested information regarding St. Germain and learned that between June 15, 2012 and June 15, 2013 she has impounded 12 tags.
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