MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (WSVN) — An internal investigation is underway after a South Florida business owner is accusing police officers of acting above the law.
Ali Saleh, owner of 207 Quickstop, located on Northwest 207th Street in Miami Gardens, is accusing Miami Gardens Police of allegedly taking his patrons and employees into custody without valid reason. “My customers started calling me before they come here, ‘Can we go to the store? Is police up front?'” said Saleah.
Saleh has installed several security cameras around his store but not to watch out for crooks. He said he mainly put them up to catch police officers in action.
Surveillance video captured an employee at the store being taken into custody by police. That employee, according to records, has been arrested dozens of times for trespassing.
According to Saleh, one of his customers who was drinking outside his store was told by police to get rid of the open container. The man followed police’s orders. The customer then wanted to enter the store, but officers told the man he could not. The man was arrested before he was thrown to the ground.
Saleh said the man was not trespassing at his store. He feels the arrests by police are unjustified and is filing a civil rights lawsuit against the Miami Gardens Police Department. “Make me feel abused. I believe and live in America, and America has a Constitution, and it has to be to protect the citizens,” said Saleh.
City officials said they are trying to solve crime in the neighborhood. “He wasn’t making his clients available so we can interview them. He wasn’t willing to give us the tapes in any complete form, just the edited version of what he claims of being inappropriate behavior,” said City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. “We don’t know what happen before. We don’t know what happened after.”
“We are noticing our rights are being violated,” said Baraka Short.
Short, a former University of Miami football player, owns the salon next-door. He said he once questioned officers about their actions while detaining minors outside the strip mall. Since then, Short said, he has become a target by officers. “I have noticed he’s followed me numerous times, in his unit, and you know, I’m looking out my rearview mirror, and it makes me afraid,” said Short.
Documents show police had his car towed after being arrested, but Short said he was never arrested. “I wasn’t there,” he said.
In September, a man was killed in a shooting in the morning hours outside the Quickstop. Saleh said, “This is a high crime area, absolutely, but it doesn’t give a right to the police officers to violate people’s rights.”
The Miami Gardens Police Department released a statement which read: “The City of Miami Gardens Police Department is committed to serving and protecting the residents and businesses of this city. Whenever we receive a complaint regarding one of our officers, not only do we take it seriously, but we swiftly investigate the allegations. Our goal as a department is to enforce the laws of the State of Florida in a manner that shows respect and concern for the residents and businesses that we are charged with protecting.”
According to Saleh, police have also entered his store and searched through private areas without a warrant.