Only in South Florida...
An off-duty City of Miami police officer was arrested at gunpoint after a 7-minute-long, high-speed pursuit down the Turnpike.
Allegedly, the officer was running late for an off-duty job. However, the officer was driving his assigned City of Miami police patrol car. The officer was allegedly reaching speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, weaving dangerously in and out of traffic.
A Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted the Miami police car and began the pursuit. For 7 minutes with lights and sirens on, the FHP trooper tried unsuccessfully to pull over the Miami cop. The FHP car's dashboard camera recorded the 7-minute pursuit.
Once stopped, the FHP trooper drew her weapon, probably not knowing whether the speeding cop car had been stolen considering no law-abiding police officer would ever drive like that. Upon realizing that the driver was, in fact, a police officer, he was taken into custody.
But...he was only charged with reckless driving. A second-degree misdemeanor.
Now this ain't right, folks. Doing 120 for 7 minutes, weaving in and out of traffic while another police car attempts to stop you is fleeing and eluding. A felony charge, not a criminal traffic misdemeanor.
The officer driving the Miami patrol car was not on duty. He had no reason to be driving 120 miles per hour, cutting in and out of lanes. When a police officer is not responding to an emergency call, they are subject to the same traffic laws that we all must obey. I can assure you, if you or I were driving the way this cop was and we failed to stop for an FHP trooper, we would be charged with a felony.
I'm all for defending the accused and protecting people's rights, but it bothers me to see police officers given a pass when they are clearly guilty of breaking the law. I have seen cases where people have failed to pull over after about a minute of being pursued. They are charged with fleeing and eluding without question.
This is a case of law enforcement being given special treatment. We all see it. Cops in patrol cars are sometimes the most aggressive, reckless, and dangerous drivers on the road. Yet because they are in patrol cars and are sworn law enforcement, society is supposed to turn a blind eye?
As a defense attorney, all I can say is that every time a police officer screws up and breaks the law, it makes my job easier. That's because as police officers damage their own reputations and the overall impression of law enforcement in the eyes of the public, police become less credible witnesses in trial. If the jury doesn't believe the police, they most always find an accused person not guilty.
The bottom line is that police officers are human beings who are not above the law. If there is to be equal justice under the law, then officers shall not be exempt from prosecution when they are clearly guilty of breaking it.