Even the most impartial IA investigator is beholden to many: to civilians; to deputies, whose rights are protected under Florida statutes; to police unions; and to higher-ups who have political reputations at stake.

Layers of bureaucracy make it difficult to track complaints. Preliminary Investigative Inquiries don't become part of a deputy's disciplinary record. When a full IA investigation does occur, "What we look for is a preponderance of evidence," Robshaw says. "And we're working within the framework of agency policy, which gives much discretion to deputies."

BSO's Internal Affairs has had no shortage of critics. In 2003, private investigator and former California police Detective Diop Kamau, who runs policeabuse.com out of Tallahassee, began a four-year investigation into BSO Internal Affairs that eventually resulted in a retraining of BSO staff. Kamau hired investigators to pose as citizens attempting to file complaints and videotaped what happened. Most districts treated civilians with courtesy. In others, citizens were bullied or threatened with arrest. The evidence he presented to BSO was enough to prompt a reckoning. Kamau ran the subsequent trainings and was paid handsomely; because of that, he has some passionate detractors, but Robshaw, who worked closely with Kamau on implementation of new BSO policies, says "he had good ideas."

Daniel Cortes, after his run-in with North Lauderdale cops Tucciarone, Novello, and Sokol.
Daniel Cortes
Daniel Cortes, after his run-in with North Lauderdale cops Tucciarone, Novello, and Sokol.
Gina and Randy Brin, with Gina's son Daniel. The Brins have filed a dozen Internal Affairs complaints against North Lauderdale police.
C. Stiles
Gina and Randy Brin, with Gina's son Daniel. The Brins have filed a dozen Internal Affairs complaints against North Lauderdale police.

"He fostered accountability," Robshaw says. "The impact of his investigation was positive."

Gina Brin and Lee Shatil-White both filed complaints about their encounter with BSO deputies. The "tampering with evidence" charge against Daniel — the "probable cause" that had brought detectives Tucciarone and Novello to the Brins' house that night — was dropped by the State Attorney's Office. The Brins' lawyer, Silber, says Daniel's tampering arrest was "completely illegal. The whole incident should never have happened."

Gina went straight to the State Attorney's Office with her complaint. Shatil-White filed an IA complaint. Both were eventually dismissed. The closeout memos note "inconsistencies between witness statements" and the "credibility issues" of the complainants.

Not every complainant is going to be highly credible. Gina Brin's family was no stranger to North Lauderdale police; they knew many of the local cops by name. And deputies knew them. Brin had filed a dozen complaints with Internal Affairs over what she calls a pattern of harassment against her family. Her sons, she admits, are "no angels." Both had multiple arrests on charges that included drug possession.

Still, Gina says, after years of treatment that included racial slurs — cops had called her sons "losers" and "spics" — she felt her troubled boys were being targeted for especially harsh treatment.

The closeout memos to Brin's complaints have a weary quality. Daniel and Jose Cortes, BSO investigators explained, were "persons of interest" because of their juvenile records. By any objective measure, police told Brin, deputies were just doing good police work. Each time, the final response was the same. "I recommend that this case be closed with no further action taken," wrote Major Kim Tierney of the Field Services Bureau (Tierney is now chief of the North Lauderdale District 15) in a typical memo from 2006.

But Gina believes that what happened the night of December 10, 2008, was altogether different from the hassles they'd complained about in past police run-ins. She's convinced police almost killed her son and perhaps came close to killing her too. Since that night, she told New Times, Daniel has attempted suicide twice. He's in psychiatric therapy. She feels so angry and helpless that she's been tempted to check into a mental hospital herself. And their court cases drag on, costing time, money, and endless heartache. "I just want to see justice done," she says.

If Gina Brin's family had credibility issues, Guillermo Diaz would seem to be a poster boy for the kind of complainant most likely to succeed. A family man with a steady job delivering deli products, Diaz, who is Colombian, had no past problems with the police, with the exception of a successfully contested DUI. But Diaz's good behavior didn't cut him any slack with North Lauderdale Deputy Jorge Alonso. Their encounter ended with Diaz — semiconscious, drooling, and covered with welts — being loaded into an ambulance headed for Broward General.

Diaz had spent Saturday, July 29, 2008, celebrating a birthday. Twenty friends, family, and kids had gathered. They'd eaten cake. They'd danced and traded stories while children ran between their feet. They'd downed shots of the sugarcane liquor Cristal Aguardiente. Around midnight, they'd ended up at Ciro de la Hoz's North Lauderdale house.

When Deputy Alonso pulled up to Ciro's house around 4 a.m., the cop was responding to a noise complaint. Diaz and Harold Patino were outside listening to vallenato music on the radio of a Toyota backed up on the lawn. Diaz told New Times he'd just shut the music off — they were ready to turn in. The deputy told Diaz that somebody had phoned in a complaint about loud music.

"I'm sorry, I'm sleeping now; the music is off," Diaz says he told Alonso in broken English. Alonso turned back to his cruiser, and Diaz thought he was done. But Alonso came back with his ticket book.

"Why are you giving me a ticket now when there is no music?" Diaz asked.

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THIS ALONSO WITH HIS CRONIES , Did NOTHING when i called in a theft in my home .. they took No Inventory and when i insisted they do something ,,, they Arrested me .... iN MY OPINION BSO = bULL sH*T oRGANIZATION  that was in 2006 ... they know who i am but they Know Not What I am Made Of !