Detectives list Miami police officer as witness of ex-Hialeah police officer’s alleged crime

Miami Police Department Sgt. James Faris got in the car when Mario Perez decided to chase a pair of teens in a convertible to hit them and threaten to kill them at gunpoint, according to Pembroke Pines detectives. 

Pembroke Pines Police Department Officer Daniel P. Donato said Perez was upset because the teens were noisy in his neighborhood, the gated Pembroke Shores community, according to the arrest report. 

Perez, 49, was a police officer with the Hialeah Police Department from 1988 to 1994. 

With Faris in the car, Perez searched for the teens and chased their black Honda S2000 until they stopped to see what he wanted. Faris allegedly stayed in the car when Perez reportedly got out and shouted at the teens, “You mother [expletive]!”

The teen behind the wheel, 19-year-old Tyler Thornton Muraida, said he sped away, because he was afraid of Perez. But Perez didn’t give up. He allegedly got back in the car with Faris and chased the teens again. When Muraida stopped and was waiting for a slow gate to open, Perez allegedly saw an opportunity. 

Muraida, a college student, said Perez pulled out a gun and said, “If you move again, I’m going to put three in you.” Muraida said Perez ordered him to turn the car off and remove his keys from the ignition, and punched him on the side of the head.

Perez allegedly walked to the passenger’s side of the convertible and placed the gun to the neck of the 15-year-old boy who was traveling with Muraida. The boy said Perez also threatened to kill him and struck him with the gun in the back of the head with such force he caused minor swelling.  

Muraida said Perez walked back to the driver’s side of the car and said, “If I ever see you again, I’m going to [expletive] kill you.” He said Perez hit him in the head again and let them go. But the boy who was with Muraida lives in the Pembroke Shores community. Perez is his neighbor. 

The teens had injuries to prove their account of what happened. 

Muraida and the boy he was with said the convertible top and the windows were down, yet Pembroke Pines detectives said Faris told them that although he witnessed an altercation “due to his position he could not see what exactly occurred between them.” 
On Monday, Donato arrested Perez for suspicion of committing aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, battery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and two counts of armed burglary of the car.  Perez was denied bond and was set to appear in court April 27. 
The city of Miami Police Department’s internal affairs unit was investigating Faris. 

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Artiles resigns amid fallout from racial slur

A state senator from South Florida resigned Friday in the fallout after he used a racial slur among colleagues.

State Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, sent a resignation letter to Senate President Joe Negron.

“My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process and the citizens of our great state,” Artiles wrote. “I am responsible and I am accountable and, effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida state Senate. It’s clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth.”

Artiles used a variation of the “n-word” during a Monday night conversation with Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, and Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, at the Governors Club in Tallahassee, not far from the state Capitol.

Thurston provided Local 10 News with a firsthand account of the conversation during a satellite interview Friday with “This Week in South Florida” co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg.

The senator said Artiles was having a “normal conversation” with Gibson about some bills that had come before several committees. Thurston said he left the table and returned a short time later.

“That’s when Sen. Gibson said to me that he had just called her an f-ing a-hole,” Thurston said.

Thurston said he asked Artiles to apologize, and Artiles did. Thurston said the conversation returned to the legislation.

“At that point, he loses it and starts calling the Senate president the ‘p-word’ over and over,” Thurston said. “And he says it, and then he ends that with, ‘The only reason he’s in the leadership as the president is because six ‘n-words’ who voted him into office.'”

Thurston said Artiles tried to clarify his remark.

“He says, ‘No, you said the ‘n-word’ with an ‘ER.’ I said the ‘n-word’ with an ‘A,'” Thurston said. “So I said to him, ‘Do you really think that makes any difference?'”

Thurston, who filed a formal complaint Wednesday on behalf of the legislative black caucus, wrote that Artiles’ “egregious comments” were a violation of Senate rules and justify his expulsion. The letter was addressed to Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who serves as chair of the Senate Rules Committee. She said no further action is necessary now that Artiles has resigned.

Artiles apologized Wednesday morning on the Senate floor.

Negron said Friday that Artiles “made the right decision.”

Artiles’ resignation was an about-face for the senator, who previously said he had no intention of leaving office.

“We regret that this action was necessary, but we believe it was the right action to take,” Thurston said in a statement. “It was surely a difficult decision for the senator to make, but we believe he followed his conscience and made the right choice.”

Gibson also released a statement, thanking everyone “for their outpouring of support.”

“This has been an ordeal that no one should have to endure,” Gibson said. “I wish him well in all of his endeavors.”

For the second day in a row, protesters gathered in Artiles’ district, this time taking credit for the recent turn of events.

“We weren’t asking for the resignation of Sen. Artiles,” the Rev. Alphonso Jackson Sr. said. “We were demanding the resignation.”

Artiles was elected to his seat in November. He previously served in the state House from 2010 to 2016.

A special election will be held to replace Artiles.

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Miami police officer injured while responding to disturbance call at Brickell high-rise

A Miami police officer was injured Friday morning while responding to a disturbance call at a Brickell high-rise, authorities said.

The incident was reported at the Yacht Club at Brickell at 1111 Brickell Bay Drive.

Police said a woman told them that her 19-year-old son, Elvis Taylor, was destroying things in her apartment.

Authorities said Taylor continued to be violent when officers arrived and struck one officer in the face.

“It just looked like they were dragging some guy into the police car,” Carol Kelly, who lives in the building, said. “They put him in the police car, and then they were both being tended to by the medics. But I don’t know what happened because we were up high.”

Sky 10 was above the scene shortly after 10 a.m. and saw the officer with a bandage wrapped around his head. He was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital and is expected to be OK.

Police said officers were forced to deploy a Taser during the incident.

Taylor was arrested and charges are pending. It’s unclear what caused him to lash out inside his mother’s apartment.

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Man says he was beaten, insulted with gay slurs at Miami bus stop

Raul Marti said he was trying to get home from work Wednesday night, but instead, he was rushed to the hospital after he was brutally beaten and insulted with gay slurs.

“I want it charged as a hate crime, because he targeted me,” Marti said of his alleged attacker.

Marti said he was waiting at a bus stop on Biscayne Boulevard near 64th Street in Miami when a man, identified as Eric Pinkney, 44, noticed Marti was having a coughing fit, as he’s is still recovering from throat cancer.
He said Pinkney asked him why he was coughing so much.

“I looked at him (and) I said, ‘I’m fine. Leave me alone, please. Go on your way,” Marti said.

Marti said he kept coughing and Pinkney kept talking.

“‘You’re all sick, and you get other people sick, and that’s the problem with you fa**ots, you just need to be taken care of. You need to be gone,'” Marti said Pinkney told him.

Marti, again, said he asked for the suspect to leave him alone.

“That’s when he proceeded on: ‘That’s right, you little f***ing fa**ot, keep on begging me. I like when faggots beg me,'” Marti said.

Marti said he went to get his phone and call the cops.

“The next thing I know, he hit me, and then he hit me one more time, and then I fell to the ground and hit my head face first,” Marti said.

Some people who were passing by ran over and scared the suspect off, but a police officer passing by quickly tracked him down, Marti said.

Marti spent the night in the hospital, and is now recovering with a broken nose, multiple stitches and injuries all over his face. He said he wants his attacker put away.

“I’m a human being, not a piece of garbage, and nobody has the right to put their hands on me or hurt me that way, no matter what I am,” he said.

Pinkney is charged with aggravated battery, but Marti plans on insisting the State Attorney’s Office add charges related to a hate crime.

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Court temporarily blocks Miami’s ban on app-based short-term rentals

In an after-hours ruling Wednesday, a Miami-Dade County circuit judge paved the way for Airbnb and similar home-sharing companies to operate in the city of Miami, with a temporary injunction blocking the city’s ban.

“I think we are all just confused about what is right, what is legal, what is OK for our community,” said Miami resident Marcie Mascaro, considered an Airbnb super host.

The ruling is in response to a lawsuit filed last week by five Miami hosts and Airbnb alleging that the city of Miami was ignoring Florida law by reinterpreting local zoning codes as a ban on short-term rentals.

The city said its ban on vacation rentals in residential areas is a response to residents who fear home renters will ruin the quality of life.

The lawsuit also takes issue with the city’s action against the hosts who came forward publicly to defend their businesses at a recent city commission meeting.

“They were putting themselves in harms way by officially, publicly, on the record saying that they are violating the code of the city of Miami,” Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said in an April 11 interview with Local 10 News.

The lawsuit quotes a Local 10 News report to support its allegations.

With the temporary injunction in place, the plaintiffs are also asking the court to clarify Miami rules on home-sharing.

In an emailed statement, An Airbnb spokesman wrote, “…We are hopeful that it will result in relief and fair treatment for the 3,000 Miamians who responsibly share their homes on Airbnb.”

Mascaro, who is not one of the five plaintiff hosts, said she has dealt with Miami’s zoning process, and to comply with what she understands is law, limits her rentals to 30 days and longer. 

She calls the temporary injunction a first step.

“How can we take the laws that we have and create new ones that better benefit hosts and the community?” she asked.

City officials have not responded publicly to the temporary injunction ruling.

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Miami Gardens family wins $33.8 million medical malpractice award against federal government

The federal government will have to pay a Miami Gardens family a $33.8 million award in a medical malpractice lawsuit after a judge ruled on Monday that a federally employed doctor’s decisions caused a teen’s baby boy to suffer irreversible brain damage.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola awarded the baby’s mother, Marla Dixon, $3.3 million, and the father, Earl Reese-Thornton, $1.1 million for their pain and suffering. Scola awarded $21.7 million for the boy’s economic damages and $7.6 million for his pain and suffering. 

Dixon was a patient at Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami Gardens. Dr. Ata Atogho was the on-call physician at the community center, which provides care to the uninsured and undocumented with the help of federal funding. 

While she was at North Shore Medical Center, Dixon was also under the care of Yolande McCray, an experienced labor and delivery nurse. McCray testified that Atogho’s claims that he offered Dixon a cesarean section and that she declined were false. 

Both McCray and Reese-Thornton testified that the 19-year-old mother was yelling, “Just cut me!” 

McCray said Atogho ignored her request despite the baby’s slowed heart rate and left Dixon for another delivery. He was also reportedly on the phone with his financial adviser. When the baby was born on Dec. 2, 2013, he wasn’t breathing.

“At the anticipated, joyful moment of birth of a crying, bouncing baby, they are instead presented with the dreadful specter of a blue, floppy, lifeless child,” Scola wrote in his order.

It was not a high-risk pregnancy. After the baby was revived, the parents learned that he had suffered brain damage because of a lack of oxygen. Medical experts from both the defense and the plaintiffs agreed that a C-section could have prevented her baby’s brain damage.

“The court has considered all the evidence in the case, including the testimony of the defendant’s life expectancy expert, who has opined [the 3-year-old boy] has a life expectancy of an additional 9 to 12 years,” Scola wrote.

Florida’s statutory caps did not limit the award, which the government will have to pay in periodic payments. 

Charles White of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami led the federal government’s defense team. The family’s attorneys were from two Miami law firms: Vidian Mallard and Richard Sharp of Mallard & Sharp and Lauri Ross of Ross & Girten. 

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