Video shows Miami Beach police officer punch unarmed man in face

Officer Adiel Dominguez reassigned while internal affairs investigates

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A Miami Beach police officer is under investigation after another officer's body camera video showed him punch an unarmed man in the face.

Officer Adiel Dominguez has been reassigned from patrol duties while the Miami Beach Police Department's internal affairs unit investigates, Chief Daniel Oates announced Wednesday.

"This is obviously a very serious matter," Oates said in a statement. "At my direction, our internal affairs unit immediately launched an investigation. We have also notified the Miami-Dade state attorney's office. The officer has been relieved of his patrol duties. He will be placed in a non-enforcement assignment until further notice."

The video shows Dominguez standing near a menu stand outside the Pelican Hotel on Ocean Drive when Lowell Poitier, 35, approaches and appears to grab something off the top of the stand.

A voice can be heard saying "watch yourself" before Poitier gets in the officer's face and says, "What? What?"

The video then shows Dominguez punch Poitier in his face, knocking him to the ground.

According to a police report of the Dec. 3 incident, Poitier was "acting irate, screaming loudly" and cursing at restaurant customers. The report said Poitier "clenched his fists, took a fighting stance and leaned into" the officer.

Dominguez, "in fear for his safety," punched Poitier with a closed fist, the report said.

Poitier was evaluated by paramedics and taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center to be treated for a laceration to his lower lip. He was then arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest without violence and assaulting a police officer.

"Mistreatment of anyone by our police officers is unacceptable," City Manager Jimmy Morales said in a statement. "I have full faith and confidence in our police department to complete a thorough investigation into this matter to determine what happened."

The Miami Beach Fraternal Order of Police is standing by Dominguez, saying the officer was confronted with "an agitated, angry and physically aggressive defendant."

"There is no question Officer Dominguez was legally justified and fully entitled to protect himself," Miami Beach FOP President Robert Jenkins and Vice President Kevin Millan said in a statement.