A 32-year-old Nigerian man was arrested by Miami-Dade police after he was seen walking through Miami International Airport and taking pictures.
An officer stopped the man in the Dolphin parking garage. According to the incident report, the officer wrote that he "was alarmed by [the man's] behavior and concerned for the safety of people and property in the area."
Police said that the man did not give them any information about what he was doing or why. The officer further described his behavior as "evasive" in the incident report.
Police said there was no indication that the man ever had a plane ticket.
Now Miami International Airport is a public facility paid for by us taxpayers. If you want to take photographs, you can.
However, in this age of terrorism and heightened concerns, the line between photography and surveillance may sometimes be blurred.
This man was arrested and charged with loitering and prowling. Loitering and prowling is a second-degree misdemeanor.
If I were his criminal defense attorney, I'd be on the phone with prosecutors today telling them to dismiss this case. There was no indication, based on the man's actions, that he was doing anything illegal. But the problem is, if you are acting even the slightest bit suspiciously at an airport, you are bound for trouble.
Unfortunately for this man, he is not a US citizen so he is being detained on an immigration hold, which means he will not be given a bond for this charge.
Also, if he does plead guilty or no contest, a plea may subject him to immigration consequences.
I understand that police officers need to keep the public safe, but as a civilized society, we must not infringe on the freedoms of innocent people.
I would be willing to be that this case will ultimately be dismissed as there is no proof of a crime.
I practice criminal defense in Miami-Dade and Broward. I handle both felonies and misdemeanors. If you are in need of the services of a criminal defense lawyer, please call my office to discuss your case. All consultations are confidential.