Saturday, August 31, 2013

Miami Herald moves to a new building...again

Just three months after moving from the massive bayside building it occupied for half a century, to much smaller digs in Doral, it appears that the Miami Herald is on the move again.

As long-time staffers continue to retire or strike out for greener pastures, the paper's executives have apparently decided they were overly-optimistic and won't be needing the almost 160,000 sq. ft. of space they leased in 2012.

ExMiami reports that "Herald executives are working on subleasing 45,144 square feet of space in their new building..." More than 8,000 sq. ft. has already been sublet to a pre-school.

The paper has retained Blanca Commercial Real Estate, Inc. to help it rent out the remaining 37,000 sq. ft. of space.

But I've learned that due to continued staff defections, the Herald now needs much less space than the Doral building has to offer.

In the next few weeks, the few remaining Herald staffers will be moving back to Miami's urban core and working out of a smaller building.

Blanca Commercial Real Estate will try to help the paper sublease some of that space as well. I've gotten my hands on one of the ads that Blanca plans to unveil on its website in the next week or two.

Scroll down to see the ad.

Click here to enlarge ad.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Attention Miami Beach visitors and residents: Use caution when approaching Detective Philippe Archer. He's armed and extremely dangerous!

Click here to enlarge.

Detective Philippe Archer just may be the Miami Beach Police Department's real-life version of fictional movie character Col. Willard Kurtz.

In the 1979 movie "Apocalypse Now", an army captain played by Martin Sheen, "is assigned to find ... Lt. Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), an AWOL Special Forces officer who has set himself up as an all-powerful avenging angel among head-hunting villagers in a Cambodian jungle," during the Vietnam war.

"Kurtz (Marlon Brando), is a renegade Green Beret officer who has taken refuge in the Cambodian jungles, where, to the fury of his superiors, he wages his own wars—for and against whom is left blurry—as the head of a group of ferocious Montagnard tribesmen."
Like Brando's character in "Apocalypse Now," the hulking Archer appears to have set himself up as the Miami Beach Police Department's "avenging angel," answerable to no one and waging a private war on criminals and anyone else who happens to be unlucky enough to cross paths with him.

On his Linkedin profile - which has been taken down - Archer described himself as a "Gang Detective" who's been a cop for almost 18 years: "Work on South Beach (Miami Beach, Fl.) as a Gang Detective. Trust me when I tell you, it definitely gets crazy down here!!!"

Archer lists his skills and expertise as "public relations" and "public speaking."

Click to enlarge.

So, just how "crazy" does Detective Archer's work get?

After almost 18 years on Miami Beach's mean streets, it appears that the bulked-up Archer has become so burned-out that he can't even handle the simple arrest of a sloppy-drunk, 120 pound model without first beating the crap out of her.

Last Monday, Miami New Times staff writer Frank Alvarado reported:
In the early evening of June 26, ... 50-year-old audio and video engineer [Andrew Mossberg] was walking on West Avenue when he saw Archer, dressed in a blue polo shirt and black slacks, screaming and manhandling Megan Adamescu, a 29-year-old model.

"I saw him grab her purse and pull things out of it," Mossberg relays. "When she tried to grab the bag back, he punched her in the face. She fell down, got up, and tried to go for her purse again. He then kicked her legs from underneath her so she would fall down again."

Mossberg, who bought his three bedroom condo at the Mirador Floridian in 2004 for $439,500 and last year paid $1,317 in property taxes to Miami Beach, alleges Archer was not wearing a police badge or any other ID. So Mossberg called the Miami Beach Police non-emergency number and asked the dispatcher to send units over. "I yelled at him that the police are on their way," Mossberg says. "That's when he ran at me, kicked me once in the left side of the head, then kicked me again in the forehead, and punched me twice."

What he didn't know was that the cop had just thrown Adamescu, who was drunk, out of the South Bay Club condo building.
Alvarado writes that in his report, Archer alleged Mossberg - a man who weighs 118 lbs. and stands 5 foot, 2 inches tall - "charged me, preparing to attack me."

Of his "fight" with Mossberg, Archer writes: "During the violent and physical altercation def. sustained a laceration to the right side of his head, a left swollen face cheek and scratches about his arms."

And, just to make sure anyone reading his report knows how "violent and physical," Archer adds with a flourish, "Def's actions caused vehicular traffic to stop and tenants from their condos to exit and gather."

Megan Adamescu and Andrew Mossberg after "meeting"
Miami Beach police Detective Philippe Archer. 
Click to enlarge.

After brutalizing Adamescu and Mossberg, Archer then charged the pair with a laundry list of felonies and misdemeanors. New Times reports that prosecutors have "decided not to file criminal charges against them."

Today the Miami Herald reports that Archer is now the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation.

New Times also reports: "Archer, incidentally, is one of the 12 cops who fired more than 100 deadly rounds at Raymond Herisse on Memorial Day weekend in 2011 [that] wounded four bystanders in the process."

And Archer, New Times reports, has been sued "three times in 2012 for allegedly abusing his police powers and making false arrests."

One of those lawsuits was filed by a man who spent 340 days in jail after Archer charged him "with battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest without violence, cocaine possession, and drinking in public."

When he's off duty, Archer hangs with his with his crime-fighting buddies.

In one photo posted on his Facebook page, Archer describes himself and his supervisor, Sgt. Darrell Prieto - perhaps jokingly - as "Gangsters."

Click here to enlarge.

In another more telling shot (below) of himself and then fellow officer - and soon to be real-life "gangster" Richard Anastasi - Archer writes cryptically: "Watch out!!"

A little more than a year later, in May of 2009, Anastasi pleaded guilty to federal charges of kidnapping and extortion.

Click here to enlarge.

And while Archer spends his on-duty hours assaulting drunks, when he's off-duty he also enjoys getting sh*t-faced. A photo posted earlier this year on Facebook appears to show Archer grabbing some shuteye after a hard night of partying.

So, here's a question for Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez: After 18 years on the streets, isn't it about time that you find Detective Archer an assignment that's a little less stressful than his current job? Does he have to put someone in a coma - or worse - before you take action?


Aug. 9, 2012: Three Hialeah cops and a Miami Beach cop are target of police brutality lawsuit

Aug. 14, 2012: Miami Beach cop is target of second lawsuit

Monday, August 26, 2013

And the award for the Most Incompetent Police Department in South Florida....

Actual un-retouched photo of the
Surfside Police Department in action.
...goes to, the Surfside Police Department.

The Surfside Police Department's website says, "Our employees are extremely proud of our tradition and are committed to public service and to ensuring the safety of our residents and visitors. We are dedicated to provide quality police service to our residents, businesses and tourists."

Of course, saying you're dedicated to providing "quality police service" and actually providing "quality police service" are two different things.

Driving north on Collins Ave., it's possible to pass through tiny Surfside (population less than 5,000) in about two minutes.

In 2010, Miami New Times described Surfside as "one of those three-block hamlets that subsists entirely on the hundred-dollar fines slapped on drivers unlucky enough to crawl through a hair over the limit."

So, what else do Surfside cops do when they're not stopping drivers for going three miles per hour over the limit?

In Oct., 2010, a Surfside cop named Maximo Moreno was busted after investigators learned that he was scamming drivers he'd stopped for various infractions "by demanding bribes in exchange for not towing their rides to an impound lot."

Moreno's partner in crime was his brother, a driver for Miami Beach's notorious Tremont Towing.
Moreno ... offered the drivers two choices: Either spend the night in jail and have your car impounded, or pay his brother -- Allan Moreno, who drove a Tremont truck -- a few hundred bucks to tow you out of Surfside.

The brothers then split the cash, prosecutors say.
Moreno wasn't the first Surfside cop to go bad. In February of the same year, "the department fired a 46-year-old cop named Woodward Brooks for faking accident reports to steal insurance payouts."

After those embarrassments, you're probably thinking that Surfside's top cop, David Allen, got the message and whipped his troops into shape, inspiring them to go out and aggressively fight crime in the tiny hamlet.

But you'd be wrong.

Despite Surfside's tiny size, it appears that Allen and his department have a hard time actually catching any real criminals in the act.

Surfside PD's motto could be: "We're very good at stopping speeders, not so good at stopping crime."

WSVN reports that over the weekend thieves burgled The Monaco Collection, "a business located at 9433 Harding Ave. in Surfside, [that] sells high-end purses and watches."
Police said the thieves were in the store for about a minute in a half but were still able to fill box after box with thousands of dollars worth of luxury goods.
The kicker? It's the second time thieves have hit the ritzy boutique.

So, Chief Allen...Congratulations on being in charge of South Florida's Most Incompetent Police Department.

There were a lot of police departments in the running for this award, but you and your guys beat the competition by a mile!

Your lunch hour time waster


The way we were...Lincoln Road in black and white, 1980 (Part II)

Via the Library of Congress.

500-600 block Lincoln Road.
All photographs by Walter Smalling.
(Click here to enlarge.)

1000 block Lincoln Road. 
(Click here to enlarge.)

800 block Lincoln Road.
(Click here to enlarge.)

Detail of building at Lincoln Road and Michigan Ave. 
(Click here to enlarge.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Attn.: Miami Beach visitors and residents ... remember these images next time you get a parking ticket

City of Miami Beach Parking Enforcement vehicle
parked illegally in front of hydrant at 14th St. 

and Washington Ave. 
Photograph by Steve Berke.

That's right, Miami Beach taxpayers...I know this is hard to believe, but some City of Miami Beach employees think there are two kinds of laws on the Beach: There are the laws that you have to obey, and then there are the laws that they get to break with impunity.

Last July 25 Local 10 reported:
So far this year, the city [of Miami Beach] has made $1,766,110 from issuing parking tickets.

But not everyone pays. Leonard Freeman, a parking enforcement officer in Coral Gables, received a ticket in the 1800 block of Purdy Avenue at 1:44 a.m. His ticket was dismissed.
Freeman offered no comment. He didn't cite working for Coral Gables as the reason for the parking ticket dismissal, according to his union.

Local 10 [also] found two USPS workers using their own cars had tickets dismissed. A Miami Beach police officer had two tickets dismissed while he was off duty. An on-duty fire department lieutenant also had two tickets dismissed despite not driving a department-issued vehicle at the time.
The two photographs on this page of a Miami Beach Parking Enforcement vehicle parked at 14th Street and Washington Ave. were shot Saturday afternoon by mayoral candidate Steve Berke.

Berke says he spotted the vehicle being parked in front of a fire hydrant by a uniformed - and heavily-tattooed - Parking Enforcement employee, who when confronted by Berke, refused to give his name.

On his Facebook page Berke writes: "I just witnessed a parking enforcement employee illegally park his car in front of this fire hydrant on 14th and Washington and go shopping for groceries, so i pulled over, followed him in, showed him the pictures I took, and told him I was going to report him. The look on his face was priceless."

The fine for parking in front of a hydrant in Miami Beach is
$38...but you can bet your ass the driver of this car
didn't write himself a ticket.
Photograph by Steve Berke.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

'Apple picking' comes to South Florida

I've written a story for the Miami New Times blog Riptide, about the latest crime trend to hit South Florida...

"Apple picking" is the newest crime du jour in South Florida, perpetrated by gangs looking to steal your smartphone. Some are even willing to kill you for it. Last July 1, two teen boys on bicycles confronted 54 year-old Jerry Wayne Sherrell near NE 2nd Ave. and 54th Street and demanded his phone. When he refused, he was shot and killed by one of the boys. Police quickly apprehended a 16 year-old boy and charged him with Sherrell's murder.

Miami Beach's latest rash ended last weekend when police arrested 8 young men. But how did these kids rip off so many cell phones and how did their spree come to an end? A closer inspection of police reports reveals that the bad guys may have been tripped-up by sheer stupidity and the clumsiness of their crimes.

Read the rest of the story here, at Riptide 2.0

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The way we were...Lincoln Road in black and white, 1980

Via the Library of Congress.

Albion Hotel.
Original caption: 300 block Lincoln Rd, general 
view of north side of street.
All photographs by Walter Smalling.
(Click here to enlarge.)

1000 Block, general view of east side of mall. 
(Click smaller images to enlarge.)

Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road Mall.

Sterling Building, 1000 Block Lincoln Road Mall.

311 Lincoln Road.
Detail of entrance.
(Click here to enlarge.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

For those of you who aren't yet quite convinced that Miami is just like a Third World Country.... should check out this series of reports that aired this week on Local 10.

By the way, my favorite image comes at 0:56 in part one.

Part One.

Part Two.

Part Three.

Part One

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Part Two

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Part Three

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jeff weinsier, vegetables, dumpster, dirty dining dumpster, wplg,

Key West...then and now (Part II)

Key West homes as photographed in 1965 by the Property Appraiser's Office and photos as they look today.

(Click here for Part I)

1015 Varela St.
Built c. 1906.

(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge.

1017 Varela St.
Built c. 1906.
(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge.

1206 Watson St.
Built c. 1890.

(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Random Pixels Guest Columnist: South Florida Lawyers

Yesterday, my blogging colleague over at South Florida Lawyers opened up his Miami Herald and discovered something called "Indulge," a slick, new magazine dedicated to conspicuous consumption, conspicuous consumers and the people who love them.

(I'm told that when they were picking names for the mag, "Indulge" won out over more descriptive titles like "Gluttony" and "Decadent"...but not by much.)

I'd never heard of "Indulge" until SFL wrote about it, but after inspecting it closely, I'm guessing that it's distributed only to Herald subscribers who live in select ZIP codes...if you know what I mean. **wink wink**

This video shot at last year's launch party for "Indulge" might give you a better idea of the kind of reader the Herald is trying reach with the magazine.  (Sorry, Liberty City and Little Haiti Herald subscribers...your invitation to the party must have been lost in the mail.)

Anyway, here's what SFL wrote after receiving his issue:


Attention South Florida: You've Just Been Klugified!

I don't know the dwindling numbers of you that still get the dead-tree edition of the Herald delivered every morning, but us Neanderthals were in for quite a suprise today -- everybody got a special Herald magazine supplement called "Indulge."

Now normally I would not pay much attention to this (now that you mention it, what happened to Red Bull magazine?) but numerous tipsters immediately alerted me to this breaking news:

Miami attorney and serial
collector Alan Kluger
Yes, South Florida, this really happened.

The accompanying article is all about The Kluginator's [attorney Alan Kluger] extensive cowboy boot collection (23 pairs and counting!) and includes an anecdote about how a jury consultant once advised him that a working-class Boston jury wouldn't cotton to the boots, and so he bonded with the poor Red Sox-loving townies by buying a pair of Bruno Maglis!

There's even a reference to our crappy little blawg.

Thank you thank you thank you Miami Indulge -- you guys really know how to warm a blogger's cold dark (boot-free) heart.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Key West...then and now

"Before there was Instagram, people used to take photos and then wait 50 years for them to look like Instagram." ~Me.


The other day I was browsing the Flickr page of the Monroe County Library when I came across some wonderful photographs taken in 1965 by an unknown employee of the Key West Property Appraiser's Office. (I've posted some of the images here on my Miami Archives blog.)

Back then, it was the employee's job was to go out, drive around Key West and photograph each and every structure in Key West.

Looking at photographs, it's evident that the employee was using a camera equipped with what photographers call a "normal lens," as opposed to a wide-angle lens.

That meant he had to back up to fit the entire building in the photo. It also meant that, more often than not, a car, or several cars would end up being included in the shot.

So, as he snapped the shutter, he was creating more than just a government document, he was also preserving a bit of history.

Then I started wondering what the buildings look like almost a half-century later.

Here are just three of those buildings photographed in 1965 by the property appraiser's office.

And, thanks to the miracle of Google Street View, the same buildings as they appear today.

Check back here in the days ahead for more of these images.

Spea's Plate Glass Co., 1114 White St.
(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge.

Hyde Barber Shop and Maria Elena Restaurant,
1106 White St. 
(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge. 

1022 Varela St.
Built 1920s. 
(Click here to enlarge.)

Click here to enlarge.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Francis Suarez, candidate for Miami Mayor, turns Israel Hernandez's death into a campaign flyer


UPDATED Thurs. Aug. 15 at 6:20pm: Miami New Times reports "Cop Who Tasered Israel Hernandez Was Once Accused of Tasering, Beating Iraq War Veteran." 

"New Times has obtained the IA files for Jorge Mercado, the Miami Beach cop who fatally Tasered teenage tagger Israel Hernandez last week, and they ain't pretty. The files show that Mercado arrested an old woman last year as she tried to navigate Memorial Day weekend traffic. In 2007, he punched a guy during a concert. Worst of all, he and fellow cops were accused of Tasering and beating an Iraq War veteran in 2008." 

Read more by clicking here.


In a city where the words "crud," "scumbag" and "sleazy" are almost always associated with political campaigns, Francis Suarez, candidate for City of Miami Mayor, has plumbed new depths of the city's political cesspool.   

This week, Suarez released a campaign flyer that exploits the death of Israel Hernandez, an 18 year-old graffiti "artist," who died last week in Miami Beach.

The images of Hernandez that Suarez appropriated for the ad were taken by photographer Heather Bozzone. 

Bozzone told me today that she did not give Suarez permission to use the images.  In a brief phone interview, Bozzone said, "I'm not okay with this. I never gave him permission to use my images."

Click here to enlarge.

Today, the Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei reports,
Thursday morning, Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the city’s police union, issued a statement to “shame” Suarez for attacking law enforcement officers.

“It is unfortunate that Commissioner Francis Suarez has chosen to utilize a sensitive situation in which someone has died on a paid political advertisement for Mayor to obtain votes,” wrote Ortiz, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “There is not a single law enforcement officer that would’ve wanted Israel Hernandez to die for committing a criminal act.”

Ortiz then goes on to blame Hernandez for his own death.

“No one can take responsibility for Israel’s death except himself,” Ortiz wrote. “There is currently no medical evidence that Tasers pose a significant risk for induced cardiac dysrhythmia in humans when deployed reasonably.”

Click here to enlarge.

In other developments, today the Miami Beach Police Department released a chart that documents how many times its officers have used Tasers in effecting arrests since 2007. Beach officers have been equipped with Tasers since 2003 according to the department's spokesman, Sgt. Robert Hernandez.

Prior to last week's incident, Hernandez says no one has ever died after being Tasered by his department's officers.

And yesterday, owners of the building that Hernandez was allegedly trying to tag, deployed workers to clean-up graffiti left over the weekend by Hernandez 's friends and supporters.

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Also yesterday, Miami Beach police released recordings that document officers' radio exchanges with a dispatcher in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 as they attempted to apprehend Hernandez. Click here to hear the recordings.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Miami Beach Police release Israel Hernandez dispatch tapes

Miami Beach police have released recordings that document officers' radio exchanges with a dispatcher in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 as they attempted to apprehend 18-year-old Israel Hernandez.

Hernandez led police on a foot chase as they attempted to take him into custody after observing him spray painting a vacant building.

Hernandez suffered an apparent seizure and died after an officer cornered him and fired his Taser at the teen.

Via Miami New Times:
The tape reveals that Hernandez was running from cops for a good seven minutes before he was caught. At one point (around 3:55), one officer wonders if the teenager escaped into the ocean.

Two minutes later (around 5:50), another cop says: "We're not gonna be bringing dogs out for this. We're gonna be looking to see if we find him. He's probably hiding out somewhere."

Roughly a minute later, cops suddenly announce they've caught Hernandez. There is no mention of Tasering the teen.

Thirty seconds later, however, a cop notices something is wrong. "Hey, you alright," one officer says.

"We don't know if the guy is having a seizure," a cop says before calling for an ambulance. "He is breathing."

Rescue workers arrive roughly four minutes later, after initially reporting to an address one block away.

Towards the end of the tape, cops refer to the situation as a "cardiac arrest."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Strain beginning to take its toll at One Herald Plaza One Doral Plaza

Photo illustration. 

UPDATED to clarify that the graphic at the top of this post is a photo illustration.


Someone once said, "It takes months to find a customer, but only seconds to lose one."

If that's the case, the Miami Herald should run out of its few remaining customers - and readers - in no time.

Last night, a few of the paper's readers noticed a glaring error in a just-posted editorial.

An error, that had it made it into print, would have been more than just a little embarrassing for a paper that doesn't need any more embarrassment.

So, because we're all about being super-helpful here at Random Pixels, I called the Herald newsroom in an effort to get someone to correct the mistake before it got into today's dead-tree edition of the paper.

Someone answered the phone on the first ring. (In the Herald's nearly deserted newsroom these days, that's not always the case.)

The person who answered is someone I've known for more than a few years. I explained why I was calling. But instead of thanking me for taking the time to call, the staffer's attitude can best be described as snotty, condescending and rude.  (In case you're wondering, that's her at the top of this post.)

So, just to make sure someone in authority knew of the error, I called the cell phone of someone whose name appears on the paper's masthead. When I told him why I was calling, I was given a mini-lecture and chided for not knowing the difference between the newsroom and the editorial department

Meanwhile, over at Twitter, one of only two people left on the Herald's editorial board, claimed to know nothing of the error.

Earlier Monday, another veteran Herald editor gave notice of her intention to leave the paper.

And since more are almost certain to leave in the weeks and months ahead - and the paper isn't replacing any - you don't need a journalism degree to figure out the Herald's future isn't all that bright.

And that's good news for that rude staffer who doesn't like answering the phone and talking to pesky, know-it-all readers. Pretty soon you won't have to worry about that.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

Time-lapse video of Midtown New York produced using more than 50,000 still frames, shot over the course of 6 months.


MIDTOWN from Drew Geraci (District 7 Media) on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

What Derek Medina needs now, is a good lawyer

Derek Medina. (Miami-Dade Corrections photo)

Unless you've just emerged from a very deep sleep, chances are, by now, you've heard of Derek Medina, the "Facebook Killer."

But in case you're among the handful of people who haven't, here's how the Miami Herald is describing the case in today's paper:
Having just killed his wife, Medina propped her twisted, bloody corpse in front of a camera and posted the photo on Facebook, along with his confession, forever earning the label “Facebook Killer.”

“Facebook people you’ll see me in the news," Medina wrote next to the ghoulish photo on his page that remained public for hours Thursday. Then, with no hint of remorse, he confessed to the world that he had shot his 26-year-old wife, Jennifer Alfonso.

An attorney who publishes the Justice Building Blog, tweeted on Thursday"almost thirty years in criminal law in this town...never seen anything like this Facebook case."

I concur. As someone who's lived in Miami for over 50 years and who's been a newspaper reader all that time, I can't remember case where where someone was murdered with their killer making such a macabre and public confession.

Two days after the crime, to this non-lawyer, it looks as though Medina's chances of ever walking free again are slim to none.

But, just to be sure, I called a real lawyer today.

On the phone, Miami Beach criminal defense attorney Michael Grieco told me, "I've never seen a completely hopeless case. There have been perfectly prosecutable cases with mountains of evidence where the defendant has been found not guilty."

"And there have been cases of a defendant being convicted with very little evidence. The bottom line is that juries are very unpredictable," said Grieco.

A 1966 Miami Springs murder case backs up Grieco's observations.

On the evening of Feb. 8, 1966, Theresa Rix, a petite, 28 year-old Miami Springs housewife, forced her way into the apartment of Frank Traina, a Springs clothing store owner. A struggle ensued and Rix was knocked unconscious. Traina then trussed-up Mrs. Rix and stuffed a gag in her mouth.

According to newspaper accounts at the time, Traina drove Rix to his shop. At some point he realized she was no longer alive. Panicking, he stuffed her into a trash can and then poured cement over the corpse.

After keeping the can in his shop for twelve days, Traina drove to canal - and with the help of two high school boys - dumped it in the water.

A few days later, a cleaning crew picking up trash along a river bank made a grisly discovery.

Miami News, Feb. 24, 1966.
Click here to enlarge.

A day later, Traina was arrested.

The case against him appeared to be open-and-shut.

Miami News, Feb. 25, 1966.

Click here to enlarge.

Traina quickly hired attorney Frank Ragano, who managed to get him released on $50,000 bond.

A few days after Traina's arrest, during dinner with a union leader named Jimmy Hoffa, Ragano told the teamster boss about his newest client.

Miami News, Oct. 16, 1967.

Traina's trial began on Monday, Aug. 1, 1966. Much of the first day was spent picking a jury.

On the second day of the trial, a sheriff's investigator testified that Traina had confessed to the crime.  The judge ruled that the confession was inadmissible.

On day three, Traina took the stand and admitted that he had knocked the 98-pound Mrs. Rix unconscious after she attacked him.

He also testified that after knocking her out, he took her to his clothing store where he bound and gagged her to keep her quiet. After realizing she was dead, he stuffed her body in the trash can and sealed it with concrete and kept it in his shop for 12 days before dumping it in the Miami River.

After attorneys for both sides presented closing arguments, it took the jury just a little over two hours to find Traina not guilty.

The trial had lasted three days.

The day after his acquital, Traina told the Miami News, "I would like to tell Richard Rix [the dead woman's husband] how sorry I am this ever happened. Then I just want to forget about the whole thing."

In 1980, while awaiting reinstatement to the Florida Bar after being suspended because of a conviction on federal tax fraud charges, Ragano reminisced about the Traina case with a St. Petersburg Times reporter:

St. Petersburg Times, Dec. 29, 1980.

Right about now Derek Medina could probably use a lawyer like Frank Ragano.

But he'll have to look elsewhere.

Ragano died in 1998.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Miami Beach Police Department facing criticism over death of teen 'graffiti artist'

The Miami Beach Police Department is, once again, facing criticism over the actions of some its officers following the death of an 18 year-old "graffiti artist" who was tasered by cops following a foot chase early Tuesday morning.

From the Miami Herald:
At just 17, Israel Hernandez-Llach was already an award-winning artist, on the threshold of acclaim in Miami Beach art circles. He was a sculptor, painter, writer and photographer whose craft was inspired by his home country of Colombia and his adopted city, Miami.

He was also a graffiti artist, known as “Reefa,” who sprayed colorful splashes of paint on the city’s abandoned buildings while playing cat-and-mouse with cops, who, like many, consider graffiti taggers to be vandals, not artists.

It was while spray-painting a shuttered McDonald’s early Tuesday morning that Hernandez-Llach was chased down by Miami Beach police and shot in the chest with a Taser. He later died.
Meanwhile, in what may be the first public reaction to Hernandez's death from an elected Miami Beach official, this morning Commissioner Jonah Wolfson left this comment on Facebook:
"Following an investigation, if this proves to be a case of excessive force, we need prosecutions and firings. Not just the folks involved. We need to make sure we are not replete with fools who hurt people without cause."



New York Times, April 30, 2012: Tasers Pose Risks to Heart, a Study Warns