A Florida lawman is accused of instructing officers under his command to arrest local African-Americans for crimes they did not commit in an attempt to artificially improve the city’s crime statistics.
According to New York magazine, former Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano allegedly told officers to falsify records showing burglaries and other crimes had been solved by arresting minorities on whom they believed they could pin the charges.
The claims come in the form of a complaint by a former officer, Anthony De La Torre, in a 2014 internal investigation.
“If they have burglaries that are open cases that are not solved yet, if you see anybody black walking through our streets and they have somewhat of a record, arrest them so we can pin them for all the burglary,” De La Torre said, recalling his former boss’s instruction.
During the period leading up to the initial allegations, Atesiano had heralded the small town police force’s ability to solve property crimes.
Specifically, he touted the fact that 39 of 40 burglary reports were solved during 2013 and 2014, according to the Miami Herald.
The complaint against the chief, however, is that those stats were based not only false, but racist, policies handed down directly from the chief.
De La Torre’s account was backed up to some extent by at least three other former officers interviewed during the same investigation.
Omar Martinez told investigators that he pushed back against the immoral policy.
“I will not arrest an innocent person in order to make the department look good,” he said.”
The four former employees who recorded similar accounts reportedly represented one third of the town’s entire police force.
Atesiano has denied the allegations, but he resigned before the probe had been completed. He and two ex-officers are currently facing federal charges of abuse of power in a specific case involving the alleged framing of a teen.
That black 16-year-old was linked to four burglaries by cops despite “knowing that there was no evidence and no lawful basis to support such charges.”
By comparison, Biscayne Park police solved none of the 19 burglaries reported the year after Atesiano resigned.
[Featured image: Raimundo Atesiano, Biscayne Park Police Department]