Miami Officer Previously Accused Of Hitting Handcuffed Suspects

Aug 17, 2015

The suspended Miami police officer who was caught on videotape jumping onto a handcuffed suspect has been accused of hitting handcuffed suspects before.

Officer John Hinson, a six-year veteran of the Miami Police Department, was the subject of two internal affairs investigations in 2010 when two men said he hit them after they were handcuffed and in custody.

In both cases, the department’s findings were “inconclusive,” which means investigators could not prove or disprove the allegations against Hinson.

All of the incidents, including the recent videotaped altercation, happened in Liberty City, where Hinson normally patrols. The latest videotaped incident is now under internal affairs review, and Hinson has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Here is how the two other cases unfolded according to internal affairs reports obtained by WLRN:

Kenyon West, a homeless man, was involved in a dispute at the Valero Gas Station on Northwest 54th Street and 17th  Avenue on Jan, 1, 2010.

West alleged Hinson told him, after handcuffing him and taking him into custody, “I’m going to kick your a--. I’m going to f--k you up.”

According to the internal affairs report, West said Hinson drove him to the back of an abandoned gas station nearby. Hinson ordered a handcuffed West out of the car, and “struck him across the left side of the face with both of his fists interlocked together.”

West told investigators he fell to the ground and Hinson picked him up and slammed him on the hood of the police car twice. West alleged Hinson kicked him in his midsection after West fell to the ground a second time.

According to the report, West said he blacked out in the police car and complained of pain when he woke up. West received medical treatment for his injuries in jail and went to Jackson Memorial Hospital eight days later, but the internal affairs report did not  provide specifics on his injuries. 

Three other officers who responded to the scene and were interviewed by internal affairs said West was not abused and did not appear to be injured.

The internal affairs investigation found the abusive treatment charge against Hinson to be inconclusive “based on the absence of an independent witness.” Hinson denied the allegations.

Three months later, another man, Lynwood Thomas, filed an internal affairs complaint alleging Hinson struck him after he was handcuffed.

According to the internal affairs report, a Liberty City store owner called the police because Thomas was known for panhandling, selling drugs and harassing customers in front the store.

On that day, Thomas had gotten violent and was kicking the store’s door, according to the owner. Thomas said the store owner owed him money.

According to the report, when police responded, Thomas said he went to talk to Officer Hinson and Hinson told him to “Shut the f—k up.”  Hinson then grabbed him by his shirt, pushed him toward the police car and put Thomas in handcuffs.

After he was handcuffed, Thomas told investigators Hinson struck him on his right ear with a police radio, causing Thomas to fall onto his right shoulder.

When interviewed by internal affairs, four other officers who also responded to the scene said they did not see Hinson strike or use profanity at Thomas.

Hinson told investigators Thomas appeared to be drunk and was constantly cursing at him and calling him a gay slur.  Hinson denied hitting or cursing at Thomas.

The department found the investigation to be inconclusive as “the investigation did not produce any independent witnesses to prove or disprove the allegations.”