Still insisting that I am guilty of resisting police on the night of my last arrest, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is offering me a plea deal where I would shoot and edit a promotional video for the county in exchange for them not prosecuting me.
Could it get anymore ironic?
The last arrest took place during the Occupy Miami eviction on January 31 when police ended up deleting the footage of my arrest.
I managed to recover that footage, a five-minute clip that shows I was neither resisting police nor obstructing justice, which are the main accusations against me.
But now they want me to shoot a video that will paint them in a positive light?
I have no problem doing that but that would have to be a separate paid assignment unrelated to my case.
I thought my attorney, Nicolas Recoba, was joking when he informed me that they had offered to allow me to enter a pretrial diversion program where I would a shoot a video for the county, so I laughed out loud.
But he was serious.
“It’s my duty to inform you of this offer,” said Recoba who works in Arnold Trevilla’s office and has played a big role in preparing for my case.
I rejected the offer. But only after I stopped laughing.
Recoba recently deposed Rick Bravo, the videographer who was working for the cops that night, as well as Lt. Michael Dieppa, the cop who gave the initial order for the activists to disperse. We will eventually get those transcripts.
Bravo is not a cop but has worked for them for years shooting videos. He apparently has a very close working relationship with Major Nancy Perez, the media relations officer who arrested me.
Those requests were made by Robert Chandler of Raw Dash Cam who has since made more public records requests we are waiting for.
Bravo told Recoba that he was keeping his eye and camera on me because at the beginning of the eviction, I was wearing a bandanna on my face, making him think I was some type of anarchist up to no good.
The bandanna was handed to me by an activist when we saw police bringing out gas masks as if they would start using tear gas.
The bandanna wouldn’t have done me any good but I put it on just in case. When it became clear the cops were not going to use tear gas, I pulled the bandanna down around my neck.
And it’s not like the bandanna did a great job of concealing my identity. Especially considering they already had me profiled from my Facebook page, a fact that I’m sure Perez shared with Bravo that night.
Bravo also told Recoba that he had me on video talking to some of the activists so therefore I must have been an activist.
It’s true that some of those activists are my friends. It’s even true that I agree with a lot of what the Occupy movement stood for.
I even got into a dispute with some of the activists over my right to shoot video of their faces, which was documented at the 11:40 p.m. portion in this Miami New Times article.
The activist who was talking to me in the photo below is my friend Muhammed Malik who had been in negotiations with Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus. Malik was simply keeping me apprised of the negotiations.
But now they are going to try and use that against me.
On the other hand, Dieppa, the cop who ordered the dispersal through a megaphone, told Recoba that he had no recollection of me throughout the evening.
He never saw me break any law. He never saw me antagonize police. And he didn’t even question why I remained on the scene with the other journalists after the activists had dispersed.
He said when Perez gave the order to arrest me, he had two other officers make the arrest simply as a matter of following orders because Perez is a major and he is a lieutenant.
Prosecutors are trying to argue that I broke the law when Dieppa told all the activists they had to disperse or get arrested. All of the activists fled but I stayed because the other journalists covering the eviction had remained.
But prosecutors are arguing that they were “credentialed media,” meaning that they got to wear little army helmets as they covered the dangerous eviction. The same helmet worn by Nancy Perez when she ordered my arrest.
I didn’t have an army helmet as you can see in the above photo which they have marked as evidence against me.
All I had was a flimsy bandanna that I wore around my neck throughout most of the eviction. And a video camera that shoots high quality video.
High quality enough for them to want me to shoot a video for them.