Miami's top cop says the Miami Police officer captured on video fighting with a lieutenant during a traffic stop was relieved of duty not for the altercation but for failing to preserve evidence.
In a statement released Wednesday, Chief Manuel Orosa said the police department didn't know Officer Marcel Jackson had been recording many of his traffic stops.
"A citizen has the right to request those recordings to prove their innocence," Orosa said. "The department could be found in violation of the State Public Records Retention laws because of Jackson’s actions."
Jackson had a personal camera rolling on his dashboard when he pulled over Internal Affairs Lt. David Ramras last month outside a gas station.
The video, obtained by Crespogram, shows Ramras get out of the car as the two got into a scuffle. Ramras is then taken to the ground before other officers arrive and pull the two apart.
According to Orosa, investigators determined that Ramras was speeding nine miles over the limit at the time. Orosa also said Ramras displayed his police identification that Jackson was familiar with before the altercation.
Orosa also claims that after Ramras displayed his ID, he told Jackson he needed a shave since Jackson had a beard which is against department policies. Jackson replied with a "colorful metaphor" and that's when Ramras got out of the car, Orosa said.
In the video, Jackson is overheard calling a friend after the altercation to talk about the beard comment.
"He’s like, ‘What’s all that stuff on your face,'" Jackson said. "And I'm like, 'Excuse me? I said, 'Sir, that's none of your concern.' And then he, and then he pushes open the door."
Ramras, who has been with the department 28 years, has been transferred to another administrative assignment. The investigation into the incident was transferred from Internal Affairs "to ensure there is no influence from anyone into the investigation," Orosa said.
Jackson's attorney sent a letter to Orosa requesting he be returned to duty.
"Indeed, one of the matters that ought to be investigated is the handling of the investigation in the hours immediately following the incident....The fact that the internal investigation is apparently being handled by a unit other than IA - the Special Investigations Section - provides me no additional comfort given Lt. Ramras's high-ranking position in the MPD," the statement read in part.
According to Orosa, Ramras has had two reprimands for car accidents and two citizen complaints in his time with the department. Jackson, who has been with the department for eight years, has 15 reprimands and 20 citizen complaints and his discipline involves 400 hours of suspension, Orosa said.