In 17 years as a Hialeah cop, Harold Garzon has racked up 16 internal affairs cases against him. He may have a 17th case, after pulling over the wrong guy for playing N.W.A. on his car stereo: a "double Harvard graduate" and current law student who wasn't snowed by Garzon's poor command of state noise ordinances.
According to the Miami New Times, Cesar Baldelomar, 26, was stopped at a red light in his neighborhood northwest of Miami on Thanksgiving break from law school when Garzon, working another case at the intersection, took issue with Baldelomar's musical tastes:
"Really?" Garzon said to Baldelomar through his open car window. "You're really playing that song? Pull over."
The cop told Baldelomar it's "illegal to play loud music within 25 feet of another person." The law student laughed that one off:
"In 2012 the state supreme court struck down any law banning loud music," he says. "I knew that because it was a case I had actually studied in law school."
Garzon grew angry, though, when Baldelomar told him that fact. He called over two other cops and then demanded proof of insurance. Baldelomar pulled up his info on his phone, but Garzon waived it off, saying, "It's got to be paper." (It doesn't. Florida changed the law a year ago.)
Finally, Garzon tore off three tickets: one for the insurance, one for having an out-of-state license plate, and one for not wearing a seat belt. Baldelomar says he was wearing his seat belt the whole time and is still legally a resident of Massachusetts.
When Baldelomar asked where his noise violation was, Garzon told him to take off and not to get "smart."
Baldelomar plans to contest the tickets, which he did not sign. He'll also file a complaint against Garzon. And he left New Times reporter Michael E. Miller with some heavy thoughts about policing in immigrant-heavy Miami-Dade County:
"I'm educated. I know my rights. And I speak English, so I can fight this," he points out. "But what about when this happens to someone who's not so lucky? Policing has to change in this country."