Ron Woodson. The Chicago native was standing on the corner of Wilton Drive and NE 21st Ct., right next to the Wilton Manors police station, with a sign reading "OFFiCER FERTiG LiES".
He claims that six months ago he and a black friend were the victims of profiling in Wilton Manors and that the police involved lied to cover it up. And he says he filed a complaint with the internal affairs department, and that his case has essentially been ignored.
I spoke with Woodson, a real estate investor, on the side of the street yesterday afternoon.
In addition to his sign, Woodson was also handing out copies of a letter he's written to the "Citizens of Wilton Manors." In it, he recounts the details of his run-in with the law.
"I'm a total straight edge kind of guy," he told me. "I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I don't even drink soda. I drink juice. And I am generally supportive of all police officers. But this--this is unbelievable."
He says that early in the morning of March 25 of this year, he was driving his 2002 Honda Civic with a black friend in the car. They had spent the evening shooting pool--and not drinking--at Sideline Sports Bar. He was pulled over on NE 6th Ave, not far from Scandals. Within minutes, he says, there were five police cars on the scene.
"I was driving carefully, as I always do," Woodson said. "Officer Fertig informed me that a light bulb above my licence plate was out. He was polite and cordial until he looked over and saw my African-American friend. Then he got very confrontational and rude. He told me, 'You are strange," made disparaging remarks about people from Chicago."
Woodson says a Detective on the scene was very rough with him. "He nearly tore my shirt off." And soon, he says, there was a drug dog on the scene. "When I asked why they were searching my car, which had no drugs whatsoever, they told me I could 'hire a lawyer in the morning' if I had a problem with it."
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After 40 minutes, police let him go with a citation for crossing a double yellow line. "In the ticket, they don't even mention the light bulbs. When I got out of the car to go back and look at the light bulbs, they were both light brightly." Woodson says he suspects the police lied about the reason they pulled him over to justify the search for drugs.
Within 12 hours of the incident, Woodson had composed a letter to the Chief of Police, complaining about the apparent racism and mistreatment. Woods was directed to internal affairs. "They also told me that none of the police cars in Wilton Manors have cameras. That would settle this whole thing. If they just showed me one second that looked like crossing a double yellow line. As a matter of fact, there isn't even a double yellow line where they pulled me over. I have pictures!"
After months of complaining and checking on his case (he paid the $150 citation he received), Woods says he was fed up. So he went to the store, bought some supplies, made a sign, and decided to stand in the nice weather, telling passersby what he thinks of WMPD.
A phone call to WMPD late last evening was not returned. We will update this when we have both sides.