A Black North Carolina man whose trip to Miami Beach turned into a ride to jail has settled an excessive force lawsuit for $130,000 with the city after he was seen on video violently arrested, beaten unconscious and dragged across the street by police in 2019.
“Why would it take multiple officers to have to seize him, tackle him, and start applying excessive force with punches, closed fists, etcetera and the words they used on the bodycam, just hyper-aggressive,” said Jordan Redavid, the attorney representing 29-year-old Cody Wade in the newly settled lawsuit that was filed in July 2021.
Wade was vacationing in the South Florida area from Charlotte on the day of his encounter with Miami Beach police. On the evening of June 29, 2019, Wade was inside the nightclub Mango Tropical Café, when “an incident occurred,” as the Miami Herald reported, that was later described as “disorderly behavior,” resulting in Wade being kicked out of the establishment.
“What led to them asking him to leave is disputed, but what isn’t disputed is what’s captured on the video. Even after he was asked to leave, he didn’t cause a scene, there was no threats of violence, he didn’t bother other customers,” Redavid said of Wade’s ejection from the restaurant.
“The video shows him very calmly still communicating with an employee of the business. The employee of the business gestures, almost to give directions, he leaves and comes back within a few minutes. He doesn’t do anything different other than re-asks it looks like the same question, he’s directed to leave, and he does,” Redavid added, describing what led to Wade’s run-in with Miami Beach police.
Body camera video shows Miami Beach Police Officers Alfredo Garcia and Agustin Rodriguez speaking with Wade for several minutes asking him to leave the area outside of the establishment in what began as a calm exchange of words that grew more intense as officers are heard using several profanities.
The officers accused Wade of being intoxicated. “You’re a little drunk,” one officer said. Another officer asked Wade, “why do you smell like weed?”
Wade denied being intoxicated or on any drugs and suggested he receive a breathalyzer test; however, none were given on bodycam. As they continued talking, the officers appear increasingly agitated as Wade prepared to leave.
In what appears to be a jump cut in the body camera video from the calm scene in front of the Mango Tropical Café to the next scene, Garcia and Rodriguez are shown walking toward an intersection where they encounter Wade again, this time running through the crosswalk.
Wade’s attorney didn’t explain why the 29-year-old was running, but a police report claims Wade tried to reenter Mango Tropical Café and he was “running to try to evade the officers as they sought to arrest him for trespassing,” the Herald said.
“He starts crossing the street in a crosswalk, and that’s when the police intercept him,” Redavid said in his description of how the encounter turned physical.
As Wade dashed, he bumps into the officers, which is captured on body camera video. The moment Wade and the officers collided the officers are seen tackling Wade to the ground to make an arrest. While Wade was being handcuffed, officer Garcia is seen delivering five punches into Wade’s body, although exactly where on his body is not clear based on the unstable body camera video capturing the action.
“This looks like because the bodycam is very close, but closed fist punches, multiple strikes, the type of vulgar language that suggests a brawl as opposed to some orderly process of the law,” Redavid said.
After being punched several times and arrested, Wade’s body appeared limp. Meanwhile, one of the officers is heard saying, “get up, or we’re going to drag you across the street.”
The officers follow through with their threat of dragging an unconscious Wade across the street while still handcuffed with his hands behind his back. In the lawsuit filed, it says Wade was left lying unconscious on the curb of the street for “several minutes,” while the Herald explicitly indicates Wade was unconscious in the street for 12 minutes until paramedics arrived.
“At one point, there’s a loss of consciousness and in this case, I wouldn’t say it was undisputed, but I think objectively looking at the facts including the video, that would be undisputed,” Redavid said.
After paramedics arrived, Wade was taken to the hospital and given Narcan, a medicine used to reverse the effects of a drug overdose, although Wade denied using drugs according to a deposition filed in court the Herald reported.
Wade was charged with resisting an officer with violence, a felony in Florida, resisting an officer without violence, and trespassing property after warning, both classified as misdemeanors. The felony charge was later dropped, and the misdemeanor charges were not pursued by prosecutors, according to court records.
“I often think about, what if there wasn’t [surveillance video] and all you were left with is the body camera that the police officers turn on when they decide to turn it on. Yes, that would have captured the force, but it wouldn’t have told the story of why they used it,” Redavid said of the importance of video in Wade’s case against police.
Redavid says Wade suffered injuries from the incident he is still dealing with currently, although he declined to reveal his client’s medical records in details.
“These injuries are going to be long-lasting, if not permanent,” Redavid said of Wade’s health.
The excessive force lawsuit also accused other officers of failing to intervene and alleges the Miami Beach Police Department has a “history of widespread abuse…of its officers’ extreme and reckless actions against the citizens and visitors of the City of Miami Beach.”
The lawsuit also called for more training for Miami Beach Police officers.
“When you see a lawsuit with not just the individual officers but also the agency they work for, often times you can safely assume, there’s some public records that reveal a pattern of course of conduct,” Redavid said.
The city of Miami Beach approved to settle Wade’s lawsuit during its Sept. 28 commission meeting.
Miami Beach police has other ongoing pending lawsuits accusing the department of excessive force including the July 2021 arrests of Dalonta Crudup and Khalid Vaughn. While Crudup was handcuffed, “officers kicked him and slammed his head against the ground,” Axios reported.
Vaughn was captured on body camera video recording Crudup’s assault by officers. It led to other Miami Beach police officers on scene to approaching and attacking him in a violent arrest. A third person was also arrested during this incident for recording police arresting Vaughn, the Axios report added.
The incident involving Crudup and Vaughn drew outrage among many in the local Black community. The Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP said in a statement, “We are angered that the beating of a man in custody and the beating of an innocent bystander.”
The civil rights group also added, “for the last two years, we have seen multiple incidents of improper treatment of Black tourists, and this most recent example reinforces the [same] terrible message, that Black people are not welcome on Miami Beach.”
The five Miami Beach police officers involved in Crudup and Vaughn’s violent arrests were later charged with battery. “If [any] of us would have done such an atrocity, you would have already seen our mugshot and seen us being walked away in handcuffs. We would be charged with more than a misdemeanor,” said executive director of the Circle of Brotherhood Lyle Muhammad during a press conference about the arrests.
Former Miami Beach police Sgt. Jose Perez, was the first of the five officers involved in Crudup’s arrest to close his case in July 2022. He accepted a plea deal and received six months’ probation.
“Under the plea deal, Sgt. Jose Perez will not serve a prison sentence. Prosecutors lowered the battery charge from a felony to a misdemeanor – and the conviction will not appear on his record,” Local Today reported.
Miami Beach also has another pending excessive force lawsuit on its hands stemming from a different arrest of a New York woman in July 2021. NBC Miami reports, Mariyah Maple claimed to be hit with an officer’s bicycle then the officer pepper-sprayed her because she was recording a traffic stop on her cellphone.
Redavid says the Miami Beach Police Department is not doing enough to root out behaviors that leads to excessive force.
“In our opinion, the administrative part of the agencies, coming down with appropriate remedies, including but not limited to extended leave, sometimes maybe termination, sometimes courses to correct the behavior, I don’t think we see adequate sanctions coming internally,” Redavid said.
Atlanta Black Star raised questions with the Miami Beach Police Department and the city on continued excessive force cases, the impact it is having on Black communities and costs for taxpayers. While a spokesperson with Miami Beach said she is working on our requests for answers, the police department did not respond to our inquiries.
“I don’t think anybody with a straight face can say that a monetary settlement is justice. It’s just simply the best version of justice our legal system could afford under these particular facts and for what was in Cody’s best interest. Is he satisfied with the outcome understanding what’s in reason that the law can offer him civilly, yes,” Redavid said of the excessive force lawsuit settlement.
Although Wade was not available to be interviewed directly, Redavid says he is in good spirits following the settlement.
“Mr. Wade is doing well considering the circumstances,” Redavid said.