A South Florida man who used his cell phone to record a store owner getting arrested has been charged with obstructing justice, police said.
Lazaro Estrada, a local disc jockey, was working a promotional gig at a store in Cutler Bay when the store’s owner, Andre Trigiano, was arrested on outstanding misdemeanor traffic charges, a local CBS affiliate reported.
Mr. Estrada began recording the arrest after Miami-Dade Officer Michael Valdez removed Mr. Trigiano from the store.
The video begins with the officer standing on the sidewalk several yards away from Mr. Estrada. The officer says something unintelligible to Mr. Estrada and gestures at him to get away. The video then shows Mr. Estrada immediately backing up the sidewalk and entering the store, where he remained until officers pulled him out to make an arrest.
“I backed off into the building and I stayed behind the glass doors,” Mr. Estrada told CBS. “Obviously, all I had was my phone in my hands in clear sight … and he only told me once. I did what he told me.”
However, Officer Valdez claims in the police report that Mr. Estrada refused to back away.
“I felt threatened by his presence,” the officer wrote.
Attorneys Frank Gaviria and Jonathan Perazzo have taken Mr. Estrada’s case pro bono.
“At no point did he interfere, impede or obstruct the officer in the performance of his duties,” Mr. Gaviria said. “The video clearly shows Mr. Estrada was a very safe distance away from the officer.
“Everybody’s walking around with cameras on their phones, and they should have a right to video tape officers in public,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Police Department told the station: “The arrest report speaks for itself, and Mr. Estrada is entitled to his day in court.”
Mr. Estrada was charged with two misdemeanors — obstruction of justice and resisting arrest without violence.