Dmitry Logunov and Rene Chalarca were attacked in an apparent gay bashing after the end of Miami Beach Pride while on their way home. The suspects have since surrendered and may be charged with a hate crime. This incident alone was traumatic enough, but the victims have also accused the Miami Beach Police Department of downplaying their attack and mistreating them.
At one point a female officer allegedly told Logunov to “stop the drama, shut the fuck up.” Another officer repeated that to him a few minutes later. One of the officers also told him to “put ice on your face at home and you’ll be alright.”
When the police first arrived both men urged the officers to go after their assailants, whom they could still see in the distance, but were told: “We won’t chase them, they are far.”
“If anyone feels mistreated by any of our officers, they are encouraged to contact MBPD’s Internal Affairs unit so that any complaint can be addressed immediately,” a spokesperson for the MBPD told SFGN after the attack. While City Commissioner Michael Gongora added: “I am disturbed by this and have sent to the Police Chief for investigation. Being Miami Beach’s first and only openly gay commissioner it’s important to me that our community be safe and treated well - especially during Gay Pride.”
SFGN reached out to the former Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine, who’s now also running for Governor, for a comment.
“Hate crimes have no place in Miami Beach, or anywhere in our country. Everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of who they love. As Mayor, I was committed to fighting injustices and was proud that our city received a perfect score from the national LGBTQ organization, Human Rights Council every year I was in office,” he said. “I’m also proud to have supported a key initiative, Safe Spaces, to ensure that a safe environment in Miami Beach is always fostered. As Governor, I won’t tolerate this. Not for one second.”
But this doesn’t appear to be just an LGBT issue.
SFGN has since interviewed the mother of a 16-year-old victim, whom she said was treated in a similar way after being attacked on the beach on President’s Day in February. The attack was caught on video and shows another girl beating her with a bottle.
“The police told her there was nothing they could do about it,” said Maria Morales, the girl’s mother. Her mother said during the attack her daughter lost her cell phone so when she came across the police she asked for help and they ignored her pleas. “She’s 16 years old. She’s a minor. That’s unacceptable.”
Her daughter eventually left the police and found another way to contact her mother, who left work and picked her up.
Morales took her daughter to the police station to file a report, where she said, the police at first tried to downplay the attack. Morales, though, wouldn’t let up. Eventually she tracked down two of her daughter’s assailants and took the information to the police. One girl was eventually arrested and charged.
“Don’t fuck with a child’s mom,” Morales said. “I did all of their leg work. I got the videos. I got their names.”
In January SFGN reported on another incident in which Tiffany Fantasia, a local drag queen whose real name is Henry Williams, was put in handcuffs and manhandled by the MBPD because she matched the description of a black male in possession of a knife.
At the time of the incident Williams was in men’s clothes but he still had his drag makeup on.
At the time Williams posted this on Facebook:
“I have never been so disgusted with Miami Beach Police Department. The way they handled the situation was horrible. They handcuffed me out of nowhere while walking down my own block with a McDonald's bag, cell phone and keys saying that I matched the description of somebody with a knife. And then when I asked why [they were] handcuffing me, they're telling me to be quiet and listen with my ears.... I did nothing wrong! Obviously, from a mile away, you could tell I wasn't the person! And some of you wonder why black people have a problem with y’all.”
Fantasia later met with Police Chief Daniel Oates where they were able to work out their differences.
Correction: An earlier version of this story identified former Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine as current mayor. This has been corrected online.