Judge declines to drop charges against man accused of hate crimes on Brickell bridge

MIAMI (WSVN) - The case of a man accused of yelling racial slurs at a group of teenagers in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood will move forward after a judge denied his request to dismiss the charges brought against him.

Mark Allen Bartlett appeared in front of a judge at the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building on Wednesday in hopes of getting hate crime charges against him dropped.

“The judge’s ruling was a technical ruling, and I look forward to the next round, which will be a Stand Your Ground,” Bruce Lehr, Bartlett’s attorney, said.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2019, Bartlett and his fiancee confronted a group of teenagers who were protesting housing inequality in the middle of traffic on the Brickell Avenue Bridge.

“This was a desperate attempt by Mr. Bartlett to take this case away from a jury in hopes that the judge would give him a free pass and not allow these victims their day in court,” Marwan Porter, the attorney representing the victims, said.

Cellphone video from the group Dream Defenders showed Bartlett, then 51, yelling at the teens, saying racial slurs and expletives and pulling out a gun.

The couple left the scene and got pulled over by City of Miami Police officers, who arrested Bartlett and charged him with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. On police body camera video, Bartlett said the teenagers “hit [his] wife and ran over her foot.”

“They saw a man approaching with a firearm at his side, never pointing it, never directing his attention to anyone other than saying, ‘Get out of here, get out of here,'” Lehr said in court. “There was never an assault of any kind.”

Bartlett faces hate crime charges that include aggravated assault.

One month after the incident, he appeared in court to face a hate crime charge.

Bartlett pled not guilty to the felony charges filed under Florida’s hate crime sentencing enhancement law, which stiffens the penalty for crimes committed with prejudice.

Lehr said on Wednesday that his client’s case should not go to trial because the so-called hate crime was caught on camera, and while Bartlett agreed that the heated exchange happened, it wasn’t a hate crime. He was responding to what he thought was a threat towards his fiancee.

“They were chosen because they were stopped in traffic, because they were wearing masks, because they had surrounded his fiancee,” Lehr said in court.

Bartlett’s next court date has been scheduled for March.

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