A Miami police officer has been charged with assault after allegedly kicking a handcuffed suspect, who is Black, in the head as seen in a cell phone video. The local Fraternal Order of Police, however, claims that the police officer will be exonerated as he was only trying to make the suspect follow police commands.
Florida prosecutors have pressed charges of assault and second-degree misdemeanor to Mario Figueroa, a two-year veteran of the force, after a video of him kicking a suspect who was being handcuffed without resistance on the ground went viral on the internet last week.
“Officer Mario Figueroa can have no excuse for the alleged actions seen on the initial videotape,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a new release. “This community demands respect for all individuals taken into custody.”
Figueroa, who was initially suspended with pay, is now undergoing the firing process.
In a statement, the local Fraternal Order of Police claims that Figueroa did not kick the suspect but instead trying to get the man comply with police commands.
“It is unfortunate that because of social media, Officer Figueroa has been found guilty by some in the public without the proper due process afforded to anyone accused,” the statement said.
“While some have characterized this as police brutality, it couldn’t be farther from the truth,” the FOP said. “The only thing brutal about this entire incident is the suspect that endangered the lives of the community in which our Miami Police Officers risked their lives to take this dangerous man off the streets.”
According to police reports, police were chasing the alleged suspect identified as David Suazo, 31-year-old Black man, after being spotted driving a blue Jeep Cherokee which appears to be stolen.
Suazo sped away to a residential complex where he crashed the car and then ran as officers chased him. Police officers gave verbal commands and even used a taser but Suazo still tries to escape. It was until he was trapped from a gate that he surrendered to the police who told him to lay down.
A witness saw the incident and started taking a video. Suazo was seen lying on the ground, motionless, with hands on his head. A police officer was putting handcuffs on him when Figueroa was “pictured as running into the camera’s view and taking a large kick at the head of Suazo who was already face down on the ground and motionless,” according to prosecutors.
Further investigations are being made and if evidence of contact would be established, other charges could be made, according to Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office.
Meanwhile, Suazo was charged with several offenses such as third-degree grand theft, fleeing and eluding a police officer, reckless driving with damage to a property or person, driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, and resisting an officer without violence.