The city of Miami Beach and two of its officers are facing a lawsuit after a gay resident said he was harassed and wrongfully arrested after he called 911 to report the beating of a gay man by police officers.
Harold Strickland claims he was arrested last March after he witnessed two officers beating and kicking a handcuffed man as he laid on the ground in Flamingo Park.
As the alleged beating took place, Strickland called 911. The officers, Frankly Forte and Elliot Hazzi were kicking the unnamed suspect "like his head was a football," Strickland told the operator.
Strickland claims that the officers spotted him on the phone and made him hang up.
"We know what you're doing here. We're sick of all the f***ing fags in the neighborhood," the officers told him, according to Strickland.
Strickland was then arrested, and claims he was showered with anti-gay epithets from the time of his arrest until he was brought to the police station and booked.
The suspect was charged with loitering, prowling and resisting arrest. Strickland was charged with loitering and prowling.
The arrest report said Strickland gave "conflicting stories" and he was arrested because he couldn't "dispel officers alarm and for the safety of property and persons in the area."
Miami Beach police have not commented on the lawsuit.
Strickland, who has since moved to California, has enlisted the help of the ACLU of Florida, which sent a notice to the City today of the impending lawsuit.
"Gay men have been reportedly targeted by Miami Beach police near Flamingo Park for decades. Often, police target gay men walking near Flamingo Park for nothing more than looking 'too gay'," the ACLU's Robert Rosenwald said in a written statement.
The ACLU claims the officers lied in their reports of the arrest to cover-up their misconduct, and that Strickland was targeted because he is gay.
"The issue here is not just the violation of Mr. Strickland's rights as a gay man." said Ray Taseff, an ACLU attorney. "All people have a clear constitutional right and a civic duty to report police misconduct. When police start arresting people for reporting police misconduct, the public's faith in law enforcement suffers."