Police have launched an investigation after a black doctor known for testing homeless people for coronavirus in Miami was handcuffed and detained as he unloaded his van outside his home.
Video shows Armen Henderson being approached by a police officer as he takes items out, while loading what he said were tents into his vehicle.
Dr Henderson, who works at the University of Miami Health System, said he was on his way to distribute the tents – along with masks, and toiletries – to homeless people in the city he is renowned for supporting amid the COVID-19 crisis.
He said the officer told him he had received reports of people dumping waste and that he responded that he was simply unloading his van. He added that he was detained after he did not produce identification.
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“He said, ‘You should refer to me as sir or sergeant when talking to me.’ I never said I was a doctor. But I didn’t cuss. He just grabbed my arms and cuffed me,” Dr Henderson told the Miami Herald.
He said the officer then “yelled in my face”, but video shows him eventually being released after his wife is seen emerging from their home and presenting his ID.
Dr Henderson said he was wearing a mask during the confrontation but that the officer was not.
He added that he believed the incident was racially motivated and that the police officer had failed to apologise after establishing he had done nothing illegal.
Amid growing outrage as the footage was shared widely online, Miami chief of police Jorge Colina said context was important to the incident but vowed the matter would be “investigated fully”.
“We have had a litany of complaints pertaining to illegal dumping,” he said.
“There is a cargo van that is parked in front of that home. It appears to be trash that is being off-loaded.
“That is the genesis of the stop. What happens after that, what’s being discussed, the actions taken etc, all that needs to be investigated. And it will be investigated.”