MIAMI, FLORIDA — Authorities bragged a little too soon about their recent seizure. Thinking they had come up, police taunted on local TV, only to have a judge order to give it back.
According to Miami Herald, Miami-Dade police are in hot water after illegally seizing several guns and nearly $20,000 in stripper cash.
The source reports the department has agreed to pay over $3,000 to defense lawyers hired by 33-year-old Ras Cates and his wife, 20-year-old Lizmixell Batista — a dancer at Cheetah Gentleman’s Club in Hallandale Beach.
On May 25, a Miami-Dade officer pulled over the couple allegedly after they cut off his patrol car.
During the traffic stop, officers illegally seized six guns — three of them assault-style rifles — plus the aforementioned cash, suspected marijuana oil, and several bottles of powerful codeine cough syrup without a valid prescription.
After the arrest, police bragged about the arrest via local TV station; they also showed off photos of the guns.
One department spokesperson mentioned as follows.
“It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases. A lot of serial killers are behind bars because of traffic stops.”
CHARGES WITHOUT CHARGES
According to the source, the couple was charged with armed drug dealing and other felony charges.
However, defense lawyers almost instantly challenged the officers’ arrest. For instance, defense attorney Jude Faccidomo mentions as follows.
“What is most disturbing is that immediately following the arrest, the department went on TV and engaged in incendiary speculation without knowing the facts or even acknowledging the rampant violations of my clients’ constitutional rights.”
Reportedly, Cates told authorities he legally owned the guns. Likewise, he had a valid concealed-weapons permit on-hand.
Too, body-camera footage showed that one of the officers never got permission to search the man’s trunk. Instead, he “commanded” Cates to pop the trunk, according to prosecutors.
“Search of the trunk was illegal,” said prosecutor Johnathan Nobile.
Miami-Dade police pulled over 33-year-old Ras Cates on May 25 and found suspected marijuana oil, bottles of codeine pills, 6 guns and $19,943 cash. The cops arrested Cates and his wife, 20-year-old Lizmixell Batista and told the world about the great work. https://t.co/XXJ28dGT8S
— John Jabbo (@jfjabbo) July 8, 2018
As concerns Batista’s money, officers discovered it in the woman’s purse. The Miami Herald states that footage showed she immediately told cops about her occupation.
“I was supposed to go the bank to deposit the money,” Batista mentioned to the officers. “We got bills to pay, sweetie.”
The source says Miami-Dade police department’s legal bureau thought it was “dope money.” With this in mind, it asked a civil-court judge to allow the department to keep the seized $19,934.
Allegedly, a police dog alerted officers that the cash had been “in close proximity” to large amounts of drugs.
Yet, a fellow stripper — Haley Heath — came to Batista’s aide and testified that the woman definitely earned “significant cash tips” at the Cheetah club. Likewise, defense lawyer Faccidomo stated as follows.
“I felt that the glitter on the seized cash was compelling evidence, but apparently the police department disagreed.”
In Batista’s favor, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith agreed there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered the department to return the woman’s money.
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[Featured Photo via Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office]