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Law Practice in Jacksonville

SELECTED 2013-2017

Police Brutality by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office: The Case of Mayra Martinez

At about 2 PM on April 27, 2016, new Jacksonville, Florida resident, Mayra Martinez reported to her first day of work at Scores Bar after recently moving from Orlando. She was reportedly fired after being served alcohol (or something else) by fellow Scores employees. Scores called the police and reported her as “trespassing.” She was kicked out without her purse, social security card and other belongings. Police arrived quickly. The events thereafter can only be described as a disturbing series of violations of her civil rights and human rights. She and her supporters demand accountability from Jacksonville’s Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorneys handling her case and others who have deprived her of her civil and human rights.

I. UNNECESSARY USE OF FORCE (PARKING LOT)
Rookie police officer Akinyeme Borisade of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported to the scene. He and a fellow officer pinned Ms. Martinez on the ground and used “ground and pound” techniques on her. It appears the officers also hit or shoved her head into the asphalt. She can be heard screaming from a good Samaritan’s dashcam, “I didn’t do anything.” The arrest report differs from the dashcam, as these officers where not aware of being recorded using unnecessary force.

II. UNNECESSARY USE OF FORCE (JAIL)
Ms. Martinez was then transported to the sally port (intake corridor) of the Pre-Trial Detention Facility of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office by the same officer. Footage depicts her handcuffed and standing around being largely ignored for some time awaiting processing into the jail. At some point she says or does something officer Borisade disagrees with. He approaches her and shoves her into the wall. She reflectively kicks back and he pummels her in the stomach, chest and face, knocking her completely unconscious.

Based on her actions in the above scenes, Ms. Martinez was charged with resisting an officer with violence in addition to trespassing at Scores. The report mentions she “kicked at” officer Borisade. The videos speaks for themselves. You decide what policies and procedures and amount of use of force should we require from our public servants.

III. FAILURE OF OFFICERS TO INTERVENE
Officers have a duty to protect individuals from constitutional violations by fellow officers. Therefore, an officer who witnesses a fellow officer violating an individual’s constitutional rights may be liable to the victim for failing to intervene. You can clearly see this in the above video- apathy, lack of concern, repeatedly failing to intervene or taking over for the officer who clearly had lost his composure. The Blue Line was protected despite clear abuses of power.

No supervisor ever stepped in or controlled this probationary officer. Sure they terminated him after the incidents, but it was too little, too late.

IV. FAILURE TO PROVIDE ANY CARE OR CONCERN FOR UNCONSCIOUS VICTIM FOR 15 MINUTES
Detention and correctional facilities have an obligation to provide adequate medical care to detainees and prisoners. They are in the care, custody and control of the institution, and are unable to seek their medical care elsewhere, as free persons may. As such, considerable time, effort, and expense must be devoted to protecting injured or sick inmates. What you see in the above video is beyond disturbing. Ms. Martinez was left to potentially sustain serious neurological injury, or die, without one person checking her pulse, breathing, whether she would choke or aspirate on her own vomit, etc. She did not move for nearly 15 minutes and no one showed any care or concern about it.

V. REFUSAL OF HOSPITALIZATION RECOMMENDED BY EMTS BY OFFICER BORISADE
Once Jacksonville Fire and Rescue were finally called by JSO and arrived, they were given false or a fundamental lack of information. The EMT report indicates officer Borisade only admitted hitting her in the stomach and claims that pain in the stomach was all she complained of. She is clearly unconscious at the time of the incident. The report makes no mention of any head trauma. Making matters worse, the EMT report indicates EMTs repeatedly urged Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to allow them to take her to a hospital in the ambulance located only a few feet away. However, the very same officer who harmed her was authorized to refuse her further medical treatment or hospitalization “against (the EMT’s) medical advice.” He had no business being in her presence at this point, much less making medical decision on her behalf after committing multiple crimes of battery against her.

Imagine if a spouse who battered his wife was able to send away an ambulance or a semi-truck driver who had just crashed into a family could tell doctors that they’d take the family to the hospital- maybe. This is egregiously inappropriate.

VI. CLAIMED USE OF “PROSTRAINT” CHAIR; THEN DENIAL OF SAME
The prostraint chair (depicted below) is highly controversial, has been banned in some jurisdictions, has caused at least one inmate death in north Florida and was not otherwise shown to be warranted here.

An Assistant State Attorney told Ms. Martinez’s lawyers that JSO used a “prostraint chair” on her. That same night, JSO was asked about same by the media and stated it would not provide video of the chair for “privacy reasons.” The next day, both the State Attorney and JSO reversed their statements and denied use of the prostraint chair, but still will not provide access to video footage of all encounters in the jail. Is it okay to to simply say, “Oops, we made a mistake” and deny someone evidence which will show whether they did or not?

VII. MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT JAIL CELL VISITS BY JSO OFFICERS
Once she was processed into jail, Ms. Martinez was approached in her jail cell by two members of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s “integrity unit” during the middle of the night. The police report confirms that Ms. Martinez asked for a lawyer long before this, had not been provided one and thus this was likely improper. Once an inmate requests a lawyer, such attempts of interrogation are generally improper. They also tried to speak with her after she was released.

VIII. APPEARANCE OF SAME PROSECUTOR IN BOTH MARTINEZ’S CASE AND BORISADE’S CASE- CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Assistant State Attorney Richard Mantei, known for his role in the George Zimmerman prosecution, has simultaneously appeared in some role as the prosecutor of both officer Borisade and Ms. Martinez. Each is the purported victim in the other’s case. Each has state and federal constitutional rights. As such, it is inappropriate for the very same prosecutor to act adversarial against each.

Such duplicity would act as an ethical obstacle to each’s “right to have compulsory process for witnesses, to confront at trial adverse witnesses, to be heard in person, by counsel or both,” and more. Which stories will he believe? How will he prepare witnesses? We need to ensure that the process is fair. How can a victim in a case speak to the prosecutor who is prosecuting her? It’s unfair and inappropriate.

IX. TIMING AND MANNER OF RELEASE OF VIDEO
JSO accepted credit for doing the “right thing” by releasing the jail surveillance video and terminating officer Borisade on its own accord. However, they refused to release the whole video, even despite Freedom of Information Act requests. Once the demand for the additional video footage went public, instead of providing it to the victim, as requested, JSO posted it to its YouTube page. We live in an era where the YouTube hits of “JaxSheriff” are apparently more important than the hits performed by “Jax Sheriffs.” They still refuse to release information, claiming the ongoing “criminal investigation.”

X. OTHER UNKNOWN FACTORS
Ms. Martinez and the citizens of Jacksonville are still in the dark about many aspects of this incident, whether other officers will be charged and whether officer Borisade will be charged with Felony Battery, contained within Section 784.041, Florida Statutes. Under the law, Felony Battery is committed where a defendant actually and intentionally strikes a person (without the person’s consent) and, in doing so, “causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement.” Ms. Martinez has sustained serious and permanent orthopedic and neurological injuries to her neck, back, arms, head, brain and more.

She was knocked unconscious and has amnesia about many of the events after repeated blows to the head.

 


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