A routine driving under the influence arrest became difficult earlier this month when a Miami man repeatedly refused to follow police commands, leading a Key Biscayne officer to draw his taser to try to subdue him.
Police took the subject, Edwin Medina-Vargas, 21, to the City of Miami for breath analyzer samples, which he refused. He was arrested on resisting arrest charges and issued two citations.
“While putting Edwin back in the patrol vehicle, he was refusing to sit. I took out my department issued Taser and hit the de-escalation button twice to gain compliance,” wrote officer Francisco Lorenzo.
The de-escalation feature of newer Tasers causes a spark that is intended to frighten a subject into compliance, said Police Chief Frank Sousa. The device did not contact the man. When the de-escalation feature didn’t work, the report says Lorenzo then applied pressure to Medina-Vargas’ ear, and the man then got into the police car. Sousa said a police use-of-force report is pending.
The police report says the case began when an officer saw that a Ford F-150 pickup truck almost lost control when the driver made a U-turn on Crandon Boulevard, around midnight Aug. 2nd. It then turned onto Galen Drive.
Police tried to make a stop, but the truck headed further down the street, eventually entering the parking lot of an apartment building at 301 Galen. Medina-Vargas then got out of the truck.
Lorenzo wrote he “detected a strong odor of alcohol” and that the driver had slurred speech and watery eyes. When trying to complete a standard set of sobriety exercises, police said they stopped because of the man’s “aggressive behavior and being at a high risk of fleeing,” not to mention a concern that Medina-Vargas could injure himself if the tests continued.
Medina-Vargas pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of resisting an officer without violence, as well as citations for driving under the influence and not having a valid driver’s license. He was released on $2,000 bond and faces an arraignment hearing in September.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.