Black Doctor Arrested By Miami Police For Helping Homeless Get Tested For COVID-19

Black Doctor Arrested By Miami Police For Helping Homeless Get Tested For COVID-19

A Black doctor was arrested in front of his own home by the Miami police while loading supplies to help the homeless get tested for the coronavirus. Photo courtesy of Dr. Armen Henderson

Dr. Armen Henderson, an internal medicine doctor at the University of Miami, was loading supplies to test and help the homeless in Miami during the coronavirus pandemic when the Miami police arrested him.

Now a video of a Miami police officer handcuffing Dr. Henderson has gone viral and the Miami Police Department says it is investigating the incident.

Henderson was arrested while offloading the supplies from his van that he uses to test the homeless for coronavirus. He was outside his own home.

The Miami Police Department has a different word for what happened: an “encounter”.

“The City of Miami Police Department does not condone or accept profiling of any kind,” Miami Police Chief Jorge 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.”

According to Colina, Henderson was detained by a City of Miami sergeant after a “litany of complaints pertaining to illegal dumping.” But the home that Henderson was allegedly dumping trash in front of was his own house.

Henderson, 34, described his arrest to the Miami Herald. “(The officer) 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.”

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Henderson also noted that the officer was not wearing a mask.

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

Henderson provided the video of the incident captured on a security camera. In the video, the doctor, wearing a surgical face mask, is seen taking boxes out of the back of his van when a police cruiser approaches. There appears to be a verbal exchange between Henderson and the officer, who is still sitting in the driver’s seat of the cruiser. As they continue to talk, the officer steps out of the car.

There is a skip in the video and the next frame shows Henderson with his mask partially off. Shaking his head, he walks away from the officer to the sidewalk. Another verbal exchange ensues and the officer walks up to Hendeson, takes the handcuffs out of his pocket, and proceeds to detain Henderson.

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Henderson told ABC News he was detained after the sergeant asked for identification, which the doctor didn’t have on him. 

“Afterward, the officer can be seen leading Henderson back to the front of the cruiser, at one point jabbing his finger in the doctor’s face as he continued speaking to him. Henderson called out to his wife, who met the police officer with a copy of the doctor’s ID, at which point Henderson was released,” The Root reported.

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

This isn’t the first time Henderson has had media attention. The Miami Herald wrote about Henderson and dozens of volunteers on March 28 testing the homeless on the streets of Miami for COVID-19. Henderson and the volunteers also gave out camping tents to the homeless.