By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Kyle Swenson
But the way several students tell it, the new guards often regard their FMU charges with hostility. "They treat us like prisoners in a minimum-security prison," says one student. And in the case of Emory Mitchell, the guards held a personal grudge.
Mitchell, a Fort Myers native, spent most of his teenage years in foster care after his maternal grandmother, who was his guardian, passed away. A junior majoring in social work at FMU before he was suspended, he wants to one day found an intervention program.
But October 19 wasn't the first time Mitchell had been in cuffs. On a Friday afternoon six months earlier, surveillance cameras filmed him at a North Miami Sears stuffing $122 worth of merchandise into a duffel bag and attempting to walk out. After being arrested, he was ordered to pay $438 in court costs and fines.
Mitchell has a cocky swagger that tends to either endear or irritate. For Harry Monestime, a muscular Allied Barton guard, it was the latter, Mitchell claims: "He just had a bone to pick with me. He would always stop me to accuse me of smoking [weed] on campus, and he would take my ID and write my name down in his book."
According to Stephon Louis, a sophomore who was in the student activity center the night of the fracas, Monestime admitted to disliking Mitchell minutes before approaching him. "I can't stand him," Louis recalls the guard saying as Mitchell sauntered by. "He thinks he's a tough guy."
Allied Barton officials did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story, so New Times attempted to interview the guards at their homes. Twenty-eight-year-old Joseph Kensler, whom Mitchell accuses of whacking him with a nightstick, had a question of his own when he answered the door at his home near El Portal. "Why didn't they send me a court date?" he asked, meaning a deposition appointment in Mitchell's criminal case. (Because none of the guards had shown up to testify, the charges had been dropped.)
Asked if he believes he acted professionally on October 19, Kensler clammed up. "The thing is, I can't say anything," he lamented before gently shutting the door.
Ronnie Finley, a heavily browed, baby-faced guard who lost his post at FMU after he pulled his gun on the crowd of students, also refused a reporter at his Miramar home.
The school admits no plans to switch security companies yet again. And when a reporter asks if there's any consideration of disarming the guards in light of Finley's frantic gun-brandishing, the idea is met with derisive laughter. "Not in Dade," says Barbara Edwards, executive assistant to the president. "They would just take the place over."