A South Florida police officer and his department are being sued over an incident seen on a body cam video that involves two men who claim they were racially profiled when one of them was arrested at gunpoint.
The men say their civil rights were violated by a Miami-Dade Police officer who is still on patrol. Both men never knew each other and had never been arrested before. One of them is a realtor and the other is working on his Ph.D., but they met after finding each other on social media and both say the same officer who pulled them over stepped way over the line.
Robert Menard says he'll never forget the encounter with Miami-Dade Officer Carlos Angulo. Body cam video from 20 months ago captured Menard being taken out of his vehicle, but he says it's what took place before the camera came on that’s impacted him.
"He jumped out of his vehicle with his weapon drawn," Menard told NBC 6. "That was a frightening moment, I really thought that I got shot. I've never stared down the barrel of a gun before in my life. It impacted me greatly."
Menard says he was sitting in his vehicle with a relative in front of his cousin’s home when Angulo jumped out with his weapon drawn. Menard says the officer told him it was because his windows were too dark. But Menard doesn’t believe it.
"I felt like I was profiled because that was the second time that police unit stopped me within months," Menard said.
Menard is now suing Officer Angulo and the County, and he's not the only one. Steven Payne is suing too, after he says Angulo pulled him over.
"He just cut my vehicle off and he jumped out of his vehicle with his gun drawn telling me to 'get the F out of the car,'" Payne said.
Payne told NBC 6 that he left his position at Miami-Dade Schools for his evening job coaching track, and that’s when he says Angulo appeared.
"You’re cutting my vehicle off and I hadn’t done anything wrong. At this point I am already fearing for my life. My mom taught me, make your hands visible, no sudden moves," Payne said.
Payne was charged with reckless driving. He spent a night in jail and said he lost his job.
"He can do this to someone else," Payne said.
Attorney Chezky Rodal filed the a lawsuit in federal court claiming both men were illegally stopped, searched and falsely imprisoned by police.
"There wasn’t a crime going on. What was the need to get out of your car with a gun drawn?" Rodal said. "I think this involves an issue of training but more importantly oversight."
The lawsuit alleges a system-wide problem and says what happened when Dyma Loving was arrested is another example. Loving is at the center of a video showing her rough arrest by a Miami-Dade Police officer last month.
"We need the police, and for the most part they do a great and honorable job, but there are those few who really make it tough for a lot of people," Rodal said.
Menard says the ticket he got for having dark windows was dismissed. Miami-Dade police did counsel Angulo for being discourteous to Menard, telling the officer the conduct is not acceptable.
Miami-Dade police told NBC 6 the department can’t comment on the lawsuit. Police Director Juan Perez has publicly stated in recent weeks that he expects his officers to follow the rules and those that don’t will be disciplined and if necessary terminated. NBC 6 also contacted the police union but haven’t heard back from them.