A South Florida teenager has filed a wrongful arrest federal lawsuit against Miami-Dade Police after he spent nearly a year in jail on charges in the death of a rabbi in a botched robbery attempt.
Deandre Charles, 18, filed the federal suit against Miami-Dade Police along with Michael Brajdic, the case’s lead homicide detective, claiming that authorities jailed him despite knowingly not having any evidence linking him to the crime. The case was first reported in the Miami New Times. He was accused of the August 2014 murder of Rabbi Joseph Raksin.
“They said they had this DNA, this great case against him, but they didn’t have it,” James DeMiles, one of Charles’ lawyers, told the news outlet.”There were members of Miami-Dade County onstage, members of Miami-Dade PD onstage. Then they whipped out that sketch that the witness drew that looked like a Sesame Street character. So my client gets ridiculed. He was the butt of jokes of Kevin Hart. He was internationally known.”
The incident occurred while Raksin, who lives in Brooklyn, was in Florida visiting family. He was shot as he walked to a Northeast Miami-Dade synagogue for Saturday services. The case went unsolved until the then-15-year-old Charles was arrested in December 2015.
At the time of the arrest, police said Charles’ DNA was found both on the murder weapon and in the getaway car—a Cadillac SUV. Cellphone records allegedly also put him near the crime scene.
An eyewitness claimed to have seen two men running from the area and identified Charles as one of them, picking his photo out of a lineup. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle infamously showed off a crude drawing of the killer who was supposedly Charles made by an eyewitness.
“It quickly went viral and was referred to as the ‘worst witness sketch in history,’” DeMiles, wrote in the suit, adding it caused “further attention and humiliation.”
Charles was the only person arrested in the Raksin murder, and the case is considered open.
Four months after the arrest, then-Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jason Bloch harshly criticized the lack of evidence and ordered Charles released on bail. By January 2017, prosecutors acknowledged the case against Charles had fallen apart and dropped all charges.