Officials in Florida have launched an internal investigation into the handcuffing of a doctor who has been testing the homeless amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A Miami police sergeant reportedly detained Dr. Armen Henderson, 34, an internal medicine physician at the University of Miami Health System, in front of his home on Friday morning. Henderson told the Miami Herald that the officer approached him as he unloaded his cargo van, claiming he was investigating complaints about people dumping trash in the area.
Henderson has been in news headlines for administering COVID-19 tests to the homeless, directly violating the mayor’s orders to stay off the streets. The doctor and several other nonprofit groups have also been handing out toiletries and other essentials to the at-risk group.
Henderson told ABC News that the encounter with the seargent escalated after he said, “OK, thank you, officer.”
”I guess he must have thought that I had disrespected him or something like that. He jumped out of the car and started yelling, ‘You call me sergeant when I’m talking to you, and blah, blah, blah. And, you know what, give me your I.D.’,” he recalled.
The seargent reportedly placed Henderson in handcuffs after he told him he didn’t have his identification. Henderson reportedly called for his wife, who was inside their home, to get his identification. The seargent removed the cuffs and released the doctor after his wife came out with his I.D.
Henderson told the news outlet that he believes the sergeant detained him because he’s black. The doctor expressed concern about his wellbeing because the officer wasn’t wearing a mask during the close encounter.
“He put me at risk. Now I feel like I should get tested, honestly. Most likely I will because he definitely was spitting in my face. I could feel it while he was yelling at me,” Henderson told ABC News.
While officials haven’t released the sergeant’s name, Miami police Chief Jorge Colina announced Saturday that they’ll be investigating Friday’s incident. Colina denounced racial profiling before saying that the filmed incident stemmed from a “litany of complaints pertaining to illegal dumping.”
“That is the genesis of the stop. What happens after that, what’s being discussed, the actions taken, etc., all that needs to be investigated. And it will be investigated,” Colina said.
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[Featured image: Video screengrab via Miami Herald (CCTV)]