Hollywood officer accused of pointing gun at family during road rage By Brian Haas and Marlene Naanes South Florida Sun-Sentinel Posted October 13 2006 PLANTATION -- A Hollywood police officer is under investigation by Plantation police, accused of pointing a gun at a family of seven in an off-duty road rage incident, police records show. Officer Michael McCarty, 48, a 17-year veteran of the force with no documented disciplinary problems, is on paid leave pending the investigation. McCarty has not been charged with a crime. His attorney hadn't seen the allegations Thursday. LocalLinks "Anybody can make an accusation for any reason," said Coral Gables attorney Alberto Milian. "It's almost impossible to defend somebody when you don't even know what the accusation is or you haven't even seen the report." Plantation police are investigating the Sept. 19 incident as an aggravated assault with a firearm, records show. They declined to discuss it, other than to say it is being investigated by detectives and prosecutors. The Broward State Attorney's Office acknowledged it is reviewing the matter. Juan Calle, 34, was driving the family van home that evening, while his wife and four children, ages 3 to 13, sat behind him. His uncle sat in the front passenger seat. As the group traveled down Cleary Boulevard about 7:15 p.m., Calle's 3-year-old daughter, Wendy, started playing with rainwater dripping from a slightly opened window. According to the police report, a man driving a pickup noticed Wendy's hand sticking out the window. The report says the man cursed at Calle and said he was a bad parent for letting her stick her hand out the window. "He just kept screaming at me, talking about my daughter, calling her dirty," Calle said Thursday. Calle said he cursed back, a decision he now regrets. The pickup then stopped in front of Calle's van, and the driver -- in plainclothes -- jumped out and pulled a silver handgun from his waistband, the report says. "I see him reach for the gun and I was like, `Oh no, not this,'" Calle said. "He just comes out, points the gun at my head and says, `Don't call the police because I'm a cop.'" At that moment, Calle said, his uncle's cell phone rang. "Don't reach for nothing because I will shoot you right now," the man with the gun said, according to police reports. He trained his gun on all seven in the van -- finger on the trigger, Calle's family told police. Calle's children were terrified. Wendy started crying, he said, pleading, "Mommy, I'm scared." "They were trying to hide under the seat, under the gun he was pointing," he said. For a few minutes, Calle and his wife pleaded with the man to leave, to not scare the children. The man walked away and drove off. Calle called 911 and reported the license plate number on the pickup. The family later identified McCarty from a photo lineup and gave identical descriptions of the incident, police reports say. Calle said his children are haunted by the encounter. "My little 3-year-old still talks about it," he said. "It's definitely a fearful event." McCarty, who was off-duty at the time of the reported incident, has had only two minor complaints against him, Hollywood police said. He was exonerated in both cases. Police on Thursday could not provide information on any commendations or awards McCarty received, but his attorney says he has been commended in the past for saving someone's life. McCarty worked for the New York Police Department prior to joining Hollywood. Officials in New York would only confirm McCarty worked there and declined to provide dates of employment, disciplinary information or commendations. "Here's a guy who's devoted two decades of his life to defending the community," Milian said. "He is now going to be tarnished in the public arena for something he hasn't been charged with." Staff Researchers William Lucey and John Maines contributed to this report. Brian Haas can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4597.