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False arrest was followed by excessive force, plaintiff asserted

Amount:

$2,045,000

Type:

Verdict-Plaintiff

State:

Florida

Venue:

Federal

Court:

U.S. District Court, Southern District, Miami

Injury Type(s):

back; back-bruise; head; head-bruise other-laceration; urological-kidney

Case Type:

Government – Police; Intentional Torts – Battery; Government – Excessive Force; Intentional Torts – False Arrest; Civil Rights – Police as Defendant

Case Name:

Michael Asia v. City of Miami Gardens, Officer Randy Carpenter, and Officer Michael Horn, individually,
No. 1:14-cv-20117

Date:

March 18, 2016

Parties

Plaintiff(s):

Michael Asia (Male, 25 Years)

Plaintiff Attorney(s):

Reginald J. Clyne;
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A.;
Miami,
FL,
for
Michael Asia ■ Lissette Eusebio;
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A.;
Miami,
FL,
for
Michael Asia

Defendant(s):

Michael Horn, 

Randy Carpenter, 

City of Miami Gardens

Defense Attorney(s):

Gary K. Oldehoff;
Lewis Stroud & Deutsch, P.L.;
Boca Raton,
FL,
for
Michael Horn, Randy Carpenter, City of Miami Gardens ■ Christopher J. Stearns Jr.;
Johnson, Anselmo, Murdoch, Burke, Piper & Hochman, PA;
Fort Lauderdale,
FL,
for
Michael Horn, Randy Carpenter, City of Miami Gardens ■ Michael R. Piper;
Johnson, Anselmo, Murdoch, Burke, Piper & Hochman, PA;
Fort Lauderdale,
FL,
for
Michael Horn, Randy Carpenter, City of Miami Gardens ■ Harriet Lewis;
Lewis Stroud & Deutsch, P.L.;
Boca Raton,
FL,
for
Michael Horn, Randy Carpenter, City of Miami Gardens

Facts:

On Dec. 4, 2010, plaintiff Michael Asia, 25, alleged he was returning home on his bicycle after visiting friends in the city of Miami Gardens when he was approached from behind by an unmarked green Toyota Camry traveling very slowly. Asia alleged the vehicle had tinted windows, hence he could not see who was inside. Asia alleged the vehicle pulled up along his left side, and he claimed he feared for his life, and jumped off his bicycle and started running. At the same time, city of Miami Gardens police officers Randy Carpenter and Michael Horn, along with another officer, jumped out of the green Toyota Camry. Asia alleged the officers did not identify themselves as police officers and were not wearing police uniforms. Asia fled the area on foot and hid in a backyard, and decided to come out when he heard police sirens and saw uniformed police officers. Asia claimed a uniformed officer, John Vanderheyden, arrived at the scene and instructed him to get on the ground and place his hands behind his back. Asia alleged he complied, and Vanderheyden kneeled down, placed his knee on Asia’s back to immobilize him, and placed handcuffs on him. Asia alleged the uniformed officers ordered him to roll over so they could stand him up. Asia alleged that as he stood up Carpenter arrived on the scene and grabbed Asia’s arms and jerked him around, saying "Stop resisting, stop resisting." Asia said he never resisted at any point before or after Carpenter arrived, and Carpenter punched him in the face, kneed him in the groin, and then stepped in front of his right foot and tripped him to the ground. Asia claimed he fell face down to the ground, with Carpenter then straddling him, punching him in the back and kidney area multiple times, saying "Stop resisting." Asia said he did not resist at any point. Asia alleged that officer Horn then ran up to him and punched him on top of his head four to five times with both hands. Asia was arrested for resisting arrest. The charge was later dropped. Asia alleged that Vanderheyden reported the alleged excessive force to his superiors and an internal investigation ensued that did not sustain Asia’s allegations. Asia, who is black, sued the city of Miami Gardens, Carpenter, and Horn, for negligence, excessive force, racial profiling, battery, and false arrest. Asia’s counsel alleged the decision by the police officers to detain him without reasonable suspicion resulted from a policy/custom of racial profiling by the city. Asia’s counsel also alleged the city’s police officers had no probable cause to detain and arrest him, and that police were instructed to target black males, ages of 15 to 30, for field interrogations when they encountered three or more black males, to increase statistics by increasing arrest numbers. Further, plaintiff’s counsel claimed the city maintained an illegal, monthly quota policy requiring officers to make a minimum number of stops and arrests. Asia alleged the "policy" led to stop-and-frisk searches and arrests of mostly young black males, without probable cause or suspicion of criminal activity. Defense counsel for the city of Miami Gardens disputed almost all of Asia’s allegations. According to the officers’ incident/investigation report and complaint/arrest affidavit, Horn, Carpenter, and another officer were working a proactive burglary detail. While in a vehicle, Carpenter saw Asia exit the backyard of 17711 NW 14th Avenue pushing a bicycle and immediately recognized him as someone who lived at 16521 NW 19th Avenue. The officers decided to make contact with Asia to ensure that he had not just committed a crime. The defense argued, as Asia mounted the bicycle and began riding it, Carpenter pulled beside him and identified himself and the other officers in the vehicle as police officers. Asia immediately stopped the bicycle, yelled "Oh [expletive]" turned the bicycle around, and began peddling northbound. Asia then got off the bicycle and started running. Horn exited the vehicle and chased after Asia. Horn attempted to stop Asia by grabbing hold of his jacket, but Asia slipped out of his jacket, Horn lost his balance, Asia pushed him to the ground and stomped on his left hand, breaking a bone. Asia continued to run and another officer gave chase. The other officer attempted to grab Asia by the arm, but Asia turned around and pushed the other officer in the chest. Asia continued to run, with Horn, Carpenter, and the other officer in pursuit. They lost sight of Asia, but received information that he was hiding in the backyard of 17710 NW 14th Court. The officers radioed this information and moved into the area with other officers, Asia was ordered at gunpoint to get on the ground. Asia complied, was handcuffed, the officers then took custody of Asia and stood him up to search him. However, once Asia was standing, he swung his elbow backward, hit an officer in the stomach area, and attempted to flee. In response, an officer struck Asia in the upper chest area. The officer then forcefully took Asia back to the ground, where he continued resisting. The officers then attempted to control his head, arms, and feet. The defense claimed Asia bit Horn on his left ring finger, breaking his skin and causing bleeding. Horn yelled and struck Asia in the head with his right fist two to three times, at which time Asia released the bite. Asia was then compliant and transported to the Miami Gardens Police Department. Asia’s counsel countered the defense’s description of events, arguing the officers’ version of the events was not accurate. Asia’s counsel claimed Vanderheyden testified that Asia never resisted and that Carpenter straddled and punched him in the back and kidney area multiple times. Plaintiff’s counsel claimed Vanderheyden then returned to the police station and typed up a report of the incident involving him. Further, Asia’s counsel claimed an internal affairs investigation was initiated and Vanderheyden provided his statement to investigators that same day, backing up Asia’s version of the arrest. Plaintiff’s counsel alleged the next morning Vanderheyden found a picture of a rat in his mailbox at work. Finally, Asia’s counsel contended Horn broke his hand hitting Asia in the head, and that a bite did not occur, because the wounds would have been on both sides of the finger, if it had in fact been bitten.

Injury:

Asia claimed he sustained bruises, as well as lacerations to his head, face, back, and kidney. He also claimed he suffered emotional distress from the incident. Asia claimed he was so traumatized that he was afraid to leave his home for three years after the incident. Asia also alleged he was harassed and had the Baker Act applied to him twice after the incident. The Florida Baker Act allows for an emergency, involuntary examination / commitment of individuals for mental health evaluation, which can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians or mental health professionals. Asia claimed he continues to suffer from headaches and pain in his back. The defense argued that Asia did not complain about any physical injuries at the time of the arrest, nor request medical attention.

Result:

The jury found that the city of Miami Gardens’ police officers did not have probable cause to arrest Michael Asia. The jury awarded Asia $500,000 in damages for the false arrest claim. The jury found that police officers Randy Carpenter and Michael Horn intentionally committed acts that violated Asia’s U.S. constitutional right not to be detained without reasonable suspicion. The jury also found that the decision to detain Asia without reasonable suspicion resulted from a policy/custom of racial profiling by the city. The jury awarded Asia $1.5 million in damages for the unlawful detainment incident. The jury further found that Carpenter intentionally committed acts that violated Asia’s Fourth Amendment rights by subjecting him to excessive force. The jury also found that Carpenter’s conduct caused Asia’s injuries. The jury awarded Asia $25,000 in damages for this incident. The jury found that Horn intentionally committed acts that violated Asia’s Fourth Amendment rights by subjecting him to excessive force. The jury found Horn’s conduct caused Asia’s injuries. The jury awarded Asia $20,000 in damages for this incident. Hence, the total award was $2,045,000.

Michael Asia: $2,000,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages against City of Miami Gardens; $25,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages against Randy Carpenter; $20,000 Personal Injury: compensatory damages against Michael Horn

Trial Information:

Judge:

Marcia G. Cooke

Trial Length:

5
 days

Trial Deliberations:

3
 hours

Editor’s Comment:

This report is based on information that was provided by plaintiff’s counsel, and information gleanded from court documents. Defense counsel did not respond to the reporter’s phone calls.