A Florida deputy is at the center of an internal affairs investigation after 2017 body-camera footage showed him calling a black father “boy” and grabbing him by the neck during an expletive-filled encounter.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office announced the internal investigation into Deputy James Cady, who reportedly has a history of making false arrests, after a complaint was filed by the Broward Public Defender’s Office when the body-cam video emerged last month. The complaint was first reported by the Miami Herald.
“This video depicts a clear display of police abuse,” public defender Howard Finkelstein wrote in a Jan. 30 letter to the sheriff’s office. “Deputy Cady’s verbal assault coupled with him choking an otherwise cooperative bystander can only be characterized as an unlawful touching.”
The July 2017 video, which was recorded by Cady’s body camera outside a Dania Beach hotel, begins with the officer asking Allen Floyd, a black man calmly holding his infant son, if he has a “separate” room at the Red Carpet Inn and demanding to see his identification.
“For what,” Floyd, who is seated on the sidewalk, asks the officer before showing Cady pictures on his phone to prove he is the infant’s father. “I’m not going to show you my ID.”
“Quit fucking with me, boy!” Cady can be heard saying in the video after threatening to call child protective services on Floyd. “I’m going to fuck you up.”
In the January letter, the public defender said, “Cady’s use of the term ‘boy’ is offensive, condescending and demeaning. It carries racial connotations when used while addressing an adult black male.”
According to Finkelstein, Cady and his female partner went to the hotel after receiving reports that an intoxicated woman had broken a TV. That woman, Johnnymae Dardy, was staying with Floyd and his 9-month-old baby in a hotel room. The Broward Public Defender’s Office is representing Dardy, who was charged with assault on a law enforcement and child neglect that night, and came across the alarming body-cam footage while reviewing her case.
“We were shocked to see what else was on the body cam,” Finkelstein told The Daily Beast Saturday. “Immediately, we took action to help Allen Floyd.”
In the video, Floyd, in a move Finkelstein described as an attempt to “de-escalate” the situation, tells the deputy his name and says he can “look [him] up.”
“If you lie to me one time, I’m taking your ass to jail,” Cady replies. “You understand me?”
Floyd then questions why Cady is “yelling” at him, and asks the deputy to stop calling him “boy.” As the father begins to walk away, Cady grabs him by the right arm.
“The officer then grabs him by his neck while he’s holding a 9-month-old child in his hands, and pushes him against the car, and at no point in time does Mr. Floyd respond in an aggressive manner,” Gordon Weekes, executive chief of Broward Public Defender’s Office, said in a statement.
In the video, Floyd can be seen stretching his arms wide open.
“I don’t want no problems with y’all,” Floyd says, relenting and showing his identification. “You are standing there calling me boy, grabbing me by my neck.’”
Ultimately, Floyd was not arrested. He told The Daily Beast on Saturday that he didn’t seek legal action after the incident because he was afraid he would lose custody of his son.
“I just wanted to forget and have no trouble with the police department,” Floyd said. “The situation was hurtful, and I didn’t want to cause attention to myself in case they took my son away. But when you call a black man boy, it’s like you’re degrading his character.”
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony replied to the Public Defender’s Office letter on February 1, saying that an internal investigation had been opened into the incident.
“Thank you for bringing this matter that occurred in July 2017 to my attention,” Tony said. “A cursory search of our system shows that no complaint was made prior to receiving your letter. Our Division of Internal Affairs will provide you a response upon conducting a thorough examination.”
This is not the first time Cady has been under fire. The Miami Herald reported that Cady’s personnel file includes at least two previous Internal Affairs investigations, including for conduct unbecoming of an employee and use of force in 2003. At the conclusion of both cases, a one-day suspension was recommended.
“He was found liable for tasering, tackling and beating an individual in 2009,” Finkelstein alleged in his letter, citing a federal lawsuit filed by William Pineiro.
Pineiro, who was awarded $250,000 in total damages by a federal judge in 2011, was arrested by Cady during a party in Dania Beach. He said Cady tackled him “like a football player” after questioning his name and badge number.
“What the fuck, you want to be arrested, too?” Cady allegedly said after Pineiro asked why his friends were getting arrested, according to the lawsuit.
The couple who hosted the Dania Beach party settled separately for $350,000 in 2013 after claiming the officer wrongfully arrested them over a noise complaint and stunned them “several times” with a taser. Three deputies, including Cady, were also named in the suit.
“There is a pattern of behavior here that needs to be addressed,” Weekes said.
Cady and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment.