Investigation Launched After Miami Police Officer Handcuffs Doctor Who Tests Homeless for CCP Virus

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
April 13, 2020Updated: April 13, 2020

The Miami Police Department on April 12 launched an internal investigation into why an African American doctor, known for testing the city’s population of homeless for the CCP virus, was detained by a police sergeant outside his home.

News of the investigation was announced after security footage circulated online of 34-year-old Dr. Armen Henderson being handcuffed on Friday in the city’s Flagami neighborhood.

In a video posted on Twitter Saturday, Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said his department doesn’t condone or accept profiling of any kind. He added that Henderson, who works for the University of Miami Health System, was detained temporarily after an officer patrolling the area received complaints of illegal dumping in the area.

“The City of Miami Police Department does not condone or accept profiling of any kind,” Colina said. “I’m making that statement because I’ve been made aware of a video that has been circulating of an encounter that occurred on Friday, April 10, in the Flagami neighborhood.”

Henderson shared the security footage of the incident captured at his family home with the Miami Herald. He told the news outlet he was unloading items from a van when a police sergeant stopped outside his home and handcuffed him when he didn’t show him identification and turned back toward his vehicle.

“He said, ‘You should refer to me as sir or sergeant when talking to me.’ I never said I was a doctor. But I didn’t cuss. He just grabbed my arms and cuffed me,” Henderson told the Herald, adding that he was wearing a protective mask during the ordeal, but the sergeant was not.

He said he was released after he screamed for his wife, who then produced his identification.

“He put me at risk,” Henderson told ABC News on Sunday. “Now, I feel like I should get tested, honestly. Most likely, I will because he definitely was spitting in my face. I could feel it while he was yelling at me.”

“He didn’t apologize. He just got in his car and drove away,” Henderson added.

Colina, in his video statement, referenced a “cargo van” parked in front of Henderson’s home.

“It appears to be trash getting off-loaded,” Colina said. “That is the genesis of the stop. What happens after that, what’s being discussed, the actions taken, etc., all that needs to be investigated. And it will be investigated.”

Henderson told ABC News the supplies he was unloading at the time were for a homeless outreach group he works for in the city.

“We’ve been out there once or twice a week for the last four weeks, handing out tents, toiletries, masks, socks,” he explained. “We’ve been testing individuals for COVID-19 because it’s the most vulnerable population. If you want to control the spread, you have to go right to the source and take care of these individuals first.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.