After a Miami Beach police officer was dragged down Ocean Drive, falling unconscious to the street on April 4, police began searching for the grey 2014 Mercedes S 550 witnesses said drove away from the scene.
Eventually, it was found outside a Fort Lauderdale motel and the alleged driver, 18-year-old Meshach Samuels, was charged with attempted murder of a police officer, driving without a license and other crimes.
Police will not comment on their investigation into how an 18-year-old with no driver’s license wound up allegedly nearly killing an officer with a $115,000 Mercedes.
But as NBC 6 Investigators traced back the trail of the sedan, we found it passing through a Miami Gardens community leader and pastor named Eric Readon, whom we saw driving the car four days earlier.
Readon took possession of the car in March after signing a lease agreement from Redline Luxury Auto Rental, according to company co-owner Luis Martinez and a copy of the lease agreement reviewed by NBC 6 Investigators.
Readon was the only authorized driver on the lease agreement, which was with The Players Club Exotic Auto Rental Inc.
The Players Club address, according to state records, is the same as Readon’s church, the New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Gardens.
The company’s president when it was formed last December: Eric Readon, himself, replaced as president in January by his wife, Lakeisha Readon, the records state.
After the incident on South Beach, Redline’s Martinez said the company was contacted by Miami Beach police and later by Readon.
Martinez said Readon told him he leased the Mercedes and a BMW he also picked up from Redline, and texted Redline photos of two driver’s licenses after the incident, saying the second one was the person to whom he leased the cars, apparently referring to 18-year-old Easton Stanbury, of Brooklyn, N.Y., whom police said was driving the BMW that sped down Collins Avenue with the Mercedes on Collins Avenue shortly before both cars were pulled over by police.
Martinez said his company only leases to drivers at least 25 years old with a valid driver’s license and insurance, he added, neither Readon nor Players Club was authorized to sublease the cars.
“When you rent a vehicle from us, you cannot sublease that vehicle to anybody else,” Martinez said, adding that prohibition is in the contract and is discussed with the customer. “Nobody is allowed to drive the car other than the person stated on the contract.”
Readon’s attorney declined to answer questions about Readon’s connection to the cars, but said the premises of some of our questions were not accurate, although he declined to specify what was inaccurate.
Martinez said that Player’s Club Exotic Auto Rental still owes Redline about $4,500 for leased vehicles.
“These vehicles, you can get to 100 miles per hour really fast, without much effort, and that’s why you don’t want to put it in the possession of an 18 year old,’ Martinez said. Citing the incident in Miami Beach and the drivers involved there, he added, “Thank god the police officer is okay. It’s incredible, the irresponsibility of some people.”