Cops Ditch Blind Man in Vacant Lot As Payback
A visually impaired Florida man said police took him to an unfamiliar area and left him there in retaliation after his stepfather recorded cell phone video of a pot bust.
Four plainclothes officers from the Miami-Dade Police department pulled into a dead end street the evening of Aug. 27 and arrested three men they believed had been smoking marijuana, reported WFOR-TV.
The arrest report shows officers found a marijuana cigarette on the ground they approached the men.
Officers arrested all three of them as a fourth man recorded the incident on his cell phone.
They released two of the men after they signed tickets promising to appear in court, but the third man – Tannie “T-Man” Burke – was handcuffed and led to the back of an unmarked car, where he had trouble finding the door.
“He’s blind, dumb*ass,” says the man videotaping the arrest. “If you don’t tell him he’s walking to the car, how the hell is he going to know?”
The 21-year-old Burke has been legally blind since birth, the station reported, with no vision at all in his right eye and just a general sense of shapes and lights in his left eye.
He said he’s comfortable getting around his block in the daytime but does not venture far at night.
Burke said officers drove him around the neighborhood for about 20 minutes before dropping him off after dark in a vacant lot in South Dade – about a mile from his home.
Burke told the station that police complained throughout the drive about his stepfather.
“They said, ‘Your stepfather got a lot of mouth — you know we don’t like that,’” he said.
He said he told officers he was blind, but they didn’t seem to care and dropped him off in an area without streetlights or houses after making him sign an arrest form he couldn’t read.
Police had taken his cell phone, so Burke said he started walking home with one foot in the road and the other on the weed-choked curb strip to keep him from straying into traffic.
Eventually, he found a street that was lit and a stranger agreed to help him get home.
“Forty-five minutes to an hour later he comes walking through the door all sweaty up,” said his stepfather, Marvin Armstrong. “I was like, ‘How’d you get out?’”
Burke and his family filed a complaint with the police department, which handed the case over to its internal affairs unit.
Burke told the station he’s never been convicted of a crime, but he has been arrested twice and detained at least a dozen other times.
“I feel they stop me because they see a black man walking down the street,” he said. “I don’t know what to say about it. I just feel bad about it, that’s it.”
Watch this video report posted online by WFOR-TV: