Anytime you see the state of Florida mentioned in a headline or a story, you know there is going to be something crazy involved, and this is no exception.
There is an ongoing federal investigation into the police department in Biscayne Park, Fla. Their former chief—52-year-old Raimundo Atesiano—and two other former police officers, Raul Fernandez and Charlie Dayoub, were indicted on a conspiracy charge after they pinned four unsolved home burglaries on an innocent black 16-year-old just so the chief could claim he had a perfect property crime clearance rate in 2013. Atesiano is said to have ordered the officers to frame the teenager by falsifying arrest affidavits.
According to the Miami Herald, that investigation just widened after another officer, 37-year-old Guillermo Ravelo, pleaded guilty in a Miami federal court Thursday to a conspiracy charge. Ravelo, who was fired earlier this year, admitted to violating the civil rights of two black men—one who was falsely charged with a pair of home break-ins in 2013, and the other who was charged with five vehicle burglaries in 2014. Ravelo also pleaded guilty to the use of excessive force in connection with a 2013 traffic stop in Biscayne Park when he punched a handcuffed suspect in the face.
As a result of Ravelo’s admission, prosecutors are expected to add an additional charge to Atesiano’s civil rights conspiracy indictment. Additionally, Fernandez and Dayoub are expected to change their pleas to guilty at an upcoming hearing on Aug. 3.
According to the Herald, after Atesiano reportedly instructed Ravelo to arrest Clarens Desrouleaux, 39, for two unsolved home break-ins, Ravelo signed two arrest affidavits in which he falsely claimed that Desrouleaux had confessed to the crimes.
In February 2014, Atesiano allegedly instructed Ravelo to arrest 31-year-old Erasmus Banmah for five unsolved vehicle burglaries even though there was no evidence connecting him to the crimes.
For his part, Atesiano has denied the allegations against him and pleaded not guilty. He is still awaiting trial. His attorney, Richard Docobo, believes that the officers who have flipped on Atesiano are only doing so to reduce their federal time.
“There is a very good reason why juries are instructed that the testimony of flipped witnesses should be taken with caution,” Docobo told the Herald. “Witnesses who hope to gain more favorable treatment in their own cases may have a reason to make a false statement in order to strike a good bargain with the government.”
Regardless of the motives of the former officers offering testimony against Atesiano, in the examples cited here, evidence shows that all of the victims of this police force were innocent.
At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.