(WSVN) - Charges have been dropped against a father who was arrested outside a Northwest Miami-Dade elementary school. Prosecutors now say he never should have been arrested in the first place. Karen Hensel has the story.
This is the moment, aired exclusively by 7 Investigates, that caught the attention of not only Miami-Dade County’s top cop but also the state attorney’s office.
Witness to the officer: “Hey, you got kids around.”
Lazaro Gonzalez, father: “Put the gun down. You got kids here, man.”
Officer Carlos Baez: “Stop, stop. I’m trying to get your information.”
The information Officer Carlos Baez wanted was the name of this father of a student at Lakeview Elementary School. That request made with his gun in hand, was caught on video in February by two other parents.
Lazaro Mesa: “There was no need for him to even approach a situation with a gun drawn.”
Lazaro Gonzalez: “I work two jobs. I’ve got four kids.”
The father holding his leashed dog is Lazaro Gonzalez. He was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 2013 and had just 10 months left on his probation. An arrest could have triggered a violation, potentially sending him back to prison.
Lazaro Gonzalez: “Now, they run my name. For no reason I go to jail because you’re running my name.”
He eventually gave his name but was still arrested and charged with resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct.
Lazaro Gonzalez: “But what did I do wrong?”
Turns out, nothing, according to a state attorney’s office memo. The officer claimed he drew his gun “due to the unpredictable behavior the dog could have displayed due to the owner’s belligerent behavior,” but the prosecutor wrote the dog was “well-behaved” and “…the video does not depict any belligerent behavior” by Gonzalez.
Christine Zahralban, Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney: “I have looked at all of the body camera video. I have reviewed video by one of the media stations, which has portions of a civilian’s video.”
The state dropped the charges and said the arrest should not lead to a violation of his probation. Probation, his attorney now wants ended early.
Attorney Joe Klock: “Judge, this is what my problem is: This guy has to go everyday and bring his daughter to school. The police officers who behaved so shabbily, the same ones who are there all the time.”
In particular, concern about this second officer who began yelling at the parents recording.
Officer: “Was I talking to you?”
Witness: “She turned around screaming.”
Officer: “Was I talking to you?”
Witness: “Get your finger out of my face.”
Officer: “I’m recording, too. I’m recording, too.”
Witness: “I pay your salary. I pay your taxes.”
Officer: “Here’s your dollar. Here’s your dollar.”
That officer tossed a dollar bill on the ground.
Christine Zahralban: “To the issue Mr. Klock just raised, I want the court to be aware that it was the Interim Miami-Dade Police Director himself who brought this to the attention of the state attorney, and we all acted very quickly, so I don’t anticipate further problems like the one that we saw.”
The prosecutor’s memo also reveals Officer Carlos Baez did not activate his body-worn camera during the incident. He remains suspended and is under an internal affairs investigation. The case is now also being reviewed by the state attorney’s public corruption unit. Karen Hensel, 7News.
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