SOUTH MIAMI — The city of South Miami will pay $90,000 to a man whose daughter's 15th birthday party was ruined when police officers handcuffed him and took him to a patrol car.
The case began in December 2009 during a birthday party. Police responded to a noise complaint that evening. They returned a short time later. Julio Sanchez was arrested, but later let go. Sanchez sued the city for battery, false arrest and civil-rights violations. The city agreed to settle the case after a federal judge ruled that part of the noise ordinance was unconstitutionally vague. U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga struck down the part of the city's noise ordinance that made an noise illegal if it would "annoy" anyone on a nearby street, sidewalk or adjacent building.
Altonaga wrote that "the noise ordinance is clearly unconstitutional, and tellingly the city does not provide any argument addressing Mr. Sanchez's contentions and analysis contained in the motion concerning the noise ordinance's unconstitutionality."
During the party, police received a noise complaint, according to the lawsuit. An officer was sent to the scene and asked Sanchez to turn down the music. Attorney Ray Taseff said Sanchez complied but police received another complaint a short time later. An officer told Sanchez the party must end. Sanchez eventually turned off the music. Taseff said his client asked the officer if the party could continue inside. When Sanchez asked for the officer's name and badge number, he was arrested.
The Sanchez family is trying to move forward. "The police ruined my daughter's party and robbed my family of the special memories that a quince party creates," Sanchez said through his lawyer. "I fought to protect our rights to make sure that no other family is treated the way the city treated mine."