77ºF

Miami commissioner doubts officer will face charges for trying to kick suspect

Commissioner Keon Hardemon calls officer's actions 'disgusting, cowardly'

MIAMI – Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon posted on Twitter Friday that he doesn't believe charges will be filed against the police officer accused of attempting to kick a man in the head.

"I predict the SAO will close its investigation citing that no crime was committed because officer missed when he kicked at arrestee," Hardemon wrote Friday morning.

The commissioner called the actions of the officer "disgusting and cowardly" and said he is "more disappointed in the non-assaulting cops who let their brother commit a crime without any noticeable objection. All culpable."

Hardemon said he wonders whether other police officers agree with him that "the assaulting cop should be fired and the non-assaulting (officers) should be disciplined for their inaction."

A resident of the Culmer Place Apartments, at 610 NW 10th St., near Reeves Park in Overtown, posted cellphone video on Facebook Thursday that shows Officer Mario Figueroa trying to kick David Vladim Suazo as Suazo was on the ground.

According to the arrest report, the 31-year-old Overtown resident was in a 2000 blue Jeep Cherokee that was reported stolen in Broward County when officers ordered him to stop. He sped away instead. Officers said Suazo crashed into a concrete wall at 835 NW Seventh Ave., and took off running. 

When an officer first caught up to him, he took a "fighting stance" and shouted an expletive, according to the arrest report. The officer deployed his Taser, but officers said "it was ineffective" and Suazo continued to run. When police officers caught up to him again, a witness began to film. 

"He was already in handcuffs. He was not resisting or anything," the person who shot the video told Todd Tongen. "He was already in handcuffs and the other one came running out of nowhere and kicked him like a football and basically jumped on him."

The arrest report didn't mention the kick. It did say that "while placing the defendant into the back of the police vehicle, the defendant started to tense up his body to avoid being placed in the vehicle." The measures officers took to get him inside the vehicle weren't in the report either.

Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina released a statement Thursday, saying his department received the video, which he said "depicts a clear violation of policy." The department suspended the officer with pay and contacted the State Attorney's Office. 

State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle also released a statement, saying she was "shocked and appalled" after watching the officer's behavior on video and opened an investigation. She assigned the case to Assistant State Attorney Johnette Hardiman, of the public corruption unit. 

Authorities said Figueroa, a two-year veteran, was wearing a body-worn camera. He was suspended with pay following the incident.

As for Suazo, he is being held in jail on charges of fleeing and eluding a police officer, resisting arrest, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, driving with a suspended license and grand theft of a vehicle.

He appeared in court Friday morning where he was ordered held in lieu of a $16,000 bond. 


About the Authors: