Family accuse police of brutality during teen's arrest
MIAMI (WSVN) -- The family of a South Florida teenager is accusing Miami-Dade Police officers of crossing the line when they arrested the 14-year-old on the beach.
At juvenile court Tuesday, Tremaine McMillian's family argued, the teen was in the water nursing a puppy with a bottle, and that's when police overreacted. But officers told a much different story that led to a charge of resisting arrest with violence.
McMillian was slapped with that charge Monday afternoon after a witness shot cell video of two Miami-Dade Police officers holding the teen down on the ground. The incident happened near Haulover Beach. "He started choking me, and as he was choking me, I urinated on myself because I couldn't breath," said McMillian.
His family said, just before all this happened, McMillian had been playing in the water with some of his friends. He said he was holding his 6-week-old puppy when officers came up to him and asked what he was doing. Miami-Dade Police said the reason officers approached McMillian is, because they saw him roughhousing with another teenager.
When they approached him, police said, they realized there was no sort of altercation or fight going on, but they continued to ask McMillian where his parents were. McMillian said he turned to lead officers to his mother who was on the beach with him. That's when, both McMillian and his mother said, police on ATVs chased him, cut him off and then held him to the ground. His mother, Maurissa Holmes, said, "I ran over there and said, 'That's my son, that's my son. Can you get off of him? He can't breath.' And they said, 'Wait a minute. You all stand back, stand back.'"
He was coming to show the officers where I was at, and for them to just jump off the ATV and grab him and throw him to the ground like that and put pressure on his neck and make him urinate on himself, you don't do that."
"I was at the beach playing with my friends," said McMillian. "That's when the police had told us to stop, so I asked, why, and he told me, because he said so, and I asked why again. That's when he told me, 'Show me where your mom's at.'"
McMillian said he was cradling his puppy Marco when it all went down. He said he was obeying officers and only wanted to lead them to his mom. His mother said, "As he was walking along the beach, the catwalk where the picnic area is, the police officers were on their ATVs, and my son was walking, and they jumped off their ATVs, grabbed him and slammed him to the ground."
According to the police report, officers said McMillian got combative and clenched his fist. Police wrote, "He attempted to pull his arm away, stating, 'Man, don't touch me like I did something.'"
Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta explained, "All of that body language alone is already letting the officers know that this is a person that is now obviously getting agitated and can become violent."
McMillian counters, "How would my fist be balled up and I had the baby bottle inside my right hand, and my puppy inside my left hand when I was feeding him?"
McMillan is now trying to fight that charge. There is a July 16 trial date set for this case. Prosecutors stand by police and believe they were within their right to detain McMillian and had fair reason to believe that McMillian was not following their orders.
Meanwhile, McMillian said, the police reaction was so rough police injured his puppy's leg in the process of detaining him, as the boy had been holding the dog during his detention on the scene. "This one right here," says the teen as he rubbed the white pup's left front leg, and the dog becomes agitated, audibly yelping. "See when I touch it?"
McMillian is being represented by a public defender, and they hope the cellphone video will help them win their case.
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