Police brutality is all too common an occurrence in this country. Equally common are the lack-luster punishments for the heinous crimes some of those in blue commit while on duty.
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Today, in Florida, a police officer actually faced repercussions for his actions after a cell phone video posted to social media depicted him kicking a subject in the head during an arrest.
The video was taken by a Miami resident early this morning and was picked up by ABC News. Moments prior to hitting record, the anonymous witness who captured the clip told ABC News that she watched the police officers pursue the suspect as he was “looking to find a way to get out.”
According to the witness, the suspect eventually gave up the search for an escape route and walked to meet the officers “face to face.” He was then instructed to drop to his knees then lie down.
The suspect complied, and that’s when the witness whipped out her camera.
She subsequently captured footage that shows the suspect holding his hands behind his back, laying compliant in the grass. An officer approaches him with handcuffs and restrains him.
Suddenly, a second officer emerges and, from the vantage point of the videographer, appears to kick the defenseless man. In the words of the witness, the officer ran “right at him” and kicked him “like a football.”
Cellphone video shows Miami police officer appearing to kick suspect in the head during arrest. https://t.co/9on2iiquo7
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said the "video depicts a clear violation of policy" and announced that the officer involved has been relieved of duty. pic.twitter.com/f9SpJDRhzT
— ABC News (@ABC) May 3, 2018
The witness was unsure whether the impact injured the man, but does claim she saw spit fly from his mouth. The saliva was reportedly visible on his cheek when officers forced him to stand after the assault.
ABC did confirm the 31-year-old David Vladim Suazo of Miami was arrested and charged with 3rd-degree grand theft auto, fleeing and eluding a police officer, recalled driving and damage to property or person and habitual driving with a suspended license. Arrest records obtained by ABC News also indicate the suspect is known under several aliases.
This suggests that the man is a likely criminal, and for his crimes he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
However, as is the case with all instances of police brutality, the use of force was excessive and unnecessary. To treat a suspect’s head like a ball in a soccer match is a gross abuse of power, particularly when one considers that Florida police managed to pursue and peacefully arrest the Parkland school shooter whose reprehensible actions cost 17 people their lives.
Thankfully, Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina agreed and tweeted his dismay at the way the still-unnamed officer handled the situation.
Today, the City of Miami Police Department received a video of an incident involving one of my officers. The video depicts a clear violation of policy. The officer has been relieved of duty and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office has been contacted.
-Chief Jorge R. Colina
— Miami PD (@MiamiPD) May 3, 2018
Colina issued a tweet through the official Miami PD Twitter account, indicating that “the video depicts a clear violation of policy,” further confirming that, “the officer has been relieved of duty.”
The incident took place in Overtown, a neighborhood north of Downtown Miami, according to a spokesperson for Miami PD. That same spokesperson declined to provide further details to ABC News beyond the aforementioned tweet.
The anonymous witness admitted that she started recording because “it’s not something you always see in the backyard.” Once she had the incriminating footage in her hand, she uploaded it to social media to bring attention to police brutality.
“You guys really need to see who it is who you have working for you. We respect you guys … We need you guys, we call you. We don’t expect you to come and just be beating people up for no reason. The man was down. He didn’t resist arrest. He didn’t do anything. So, why are you hitting him?”
That’s a question we’ve yet to answer, but at least this time we’re much closer to a happy ending than these stories typically produce.