Imagine walking down the sidewalk, and out of nowhere, you're arrested and you don't know why. It happened to one South Florida man, and now he is getting paid for it.
A jury recently awarded Dale Picardat just over $100,000 in damages after his 2009 arrest on a gated island of private homes on North Shore Drive in Miami Beach. He said the message the city sent him with his arrest was “you look like you don't belong here.”
In August 2009, Picardat said, he was minding his own business, walking to his wife's house to do some handiwork, when a Miami Beach Police officer stopped to ask him if he lived nearby. Picardat said no, and kept walking – but it didn't end there.
"He puts his car into reverse, backs up, tells me to stop, and then he asked me a couple more questions, and the next thing I know, I'm being arrested. I had no idea what I was arrested for,” he said.
The officer said in his arrest report that Picardat refused to show him his ID, and said he wouldn’t speak to him any further without his attorney. Picardat also said that would report the officer to the city, according to the officer.
He said in his report that Picardat couldn't or wouldn't dispel his fear for the safety of property and people in the neighborhood.
Picardat spent the night in jail and said two corrections officers beat him up during the short time he was there. He was charged with loitering or prowling and resisting arrest. The next day, the charges were dropped.
"There was no reason to stop me," he said. "And the reason that he got upset was the fact that I said 'You can't stop somebody for just walking down the street' and he came back at me with vulgar language and I told him to not speak to me that way. It escalated and I was arrested."
The arresting officer was someone who lives just a few houses down – an old neighbor Picardat never met.
Since then, Picardat has acted as his own attorney – prompting an internal affairs investigation and eventually suing the city of Miami Beach for being wrongfully arrested. It took three years, but he finally won. On Feb. 28, a jury awarded the 56-year-old about $102,400 plus medical expenses for the injuries he sustained while he was in jail.
Now, he still visits his old house, where he lived for 15 years, and where his wife still lives, to do handiwork for her.
"When I'm not working, this keeps me happy... and the city of Miami Beach apparently says, 'you look like you don't belong here.' And this is really what they came after,” Picardat said. “They said I looked like I don't belong."
Picardat said the city is appealing the jury's decision. NBC 6 reached out to the city of Miami Beach and the police department, but have not heard back.