A Miami-Dade police officer is under investigation and has been placed on administrative desk duty after he was caught on video telling a Black motorist during a traffic stop, “This is how you guys get killed out here, man,” police said Monday.
Gerardson Nicolas, 29, was on his way to work just before 9 a.m. June 15 when an officer on a motorcycle pulled him over in North Miami Beach for not wearing a seat belt.
Nicolas told NBC Miami that he started filming after the officer who pulled him over took the keys out of the car's ignition and opened the door.
A video of the encounter was posted to TikTok last Thursday, and has been viewed more than 75,000 times.
In the video, Nicolas tells the officer that he was on his way to work.
“No, you’re not going to work,” the officer says. “You’re gonna give me your driver’s license.”
Nicolas said he was driving his mother’s car and was having difficulty finding his driver’s license and the vehicle’s registration.
The officer tells Nicolas, “Give me your driver’s license, registration and insurance. If not, you will not be going to work today. Simple thing, man. This is how you guys get killed out here, man.”
On Monday, Nicolas told NBC Miami that he feared for his safety during the encounter, “I was like, I’m gonna die. That’s what I was thinking.”
The Miami-Dade Police Department said Monday that it has initiated an internal affairs investigation and will be reviewing 30 minutes of video captured by the officer's body camera. Investigators will be reviewing "the traffic stop, the officer's comments, and conduct," it said in a statement. The bodycam footage will not be made public until after the investigation has concluded.
“Rest assured we are committed to transparency and community trust and will address all matters of public concern equitably, fairly, and in accordance with applicable laws,” it said.
Police declined to comment beyond what was said in the statement. NBC News has reached out to Nicolas for comment.
Nicolas told NBC Miami that the incident has had lasting impacts on him. “I can’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking about it,” he said. “I just want it to stop, because sometimes I feel the way they treat us, they feel like we nothing.”
The president of the police union that represents the Miami-Dade Police Department said in a statement he does not believe the officer's statements were racially motivated, but that the officer was informing Nicolas of the dangers of driving without wearing a seat belt.
"It appears that the officer is referencing people who die due to not wearing a seat belt," said Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association. “The only reference to race appears to be coming from the way this incident is being portrayed, not from the officer.”