Miami-Dade police officer charged with battery in kicking of handcuffed teen

Incident reportedly happened Feb. 14

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Christian De La Rosa - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A Miami-Dade police officer faces charges months after he allegedly kicked a teenager who was lying on the ground with his hands handcuffed behind his back, the Miami Herald first reported Monday.

According to the Herald, Sgt. Gustavo De Los Rios, 38, was charged Friday with misdemeanor battery for the Feb. 14 incident.

Miami-Dade police confirmed that the sergeant has been relieved of duty with pay since the initial complaint was filed. 

The Herald reported that multiple officers were involved in David Brown's arrest in northwest Miami-Dade County and the kicking incident was allegedly captured on cellphone video by a witness.

Brown, who was wanted in connection with a burglary, was allegedly riding in a car with his mother behind the wheel when she was pulled over in the 18600 block of Northwest 57th Avenue, just north of Miami Lakes.

David Brown was accused of breaking into a home in January.

Authorities said Brown, 17, got into an altercation with officers and swung at one of them. 

According to the Herald, officers tried to stun Brown with a Taser, but the electrifying prongs did not connect. 

Brown, who wasn't seriously injured, was charged with battery on law enforcement officers and resisting with violence.   

David Brown's father told Local 10 News that he and his family have a lot of questions still unanswered.

"Honestly, I don't know if it's racism," the father said. "Maybe he just feels like he's got power and can take advantage of people."

De Los Rios has not been booked into jail at this time, but a notice to appear in court will be mailed to him.

Miami-Dade police Director Juan Perez released a statement Tuesday morning, condemning the officer's actions. 

"The Miami-Dade Police Department became aware of a concerning video involving the actions of one of our own," the statement read. "An investigation was immediately initiated in collaboration with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. As a result, Sgt. Gustavo De Los Rios has been charged with misdemeanor battery. His actions are disappointing and do not reflect our agency's core values.  I assure our community that all allegations of misconduct involving our personnel will be vigorously investigated. No one is above the law."

Records show that De Los Rios was arrested last year in Broward County on accusations that he struck his ex-wife with a bottle. Prosecutors ultimately declined to pursue charges against the officer after the alleged victim recanted her claims.

Prior to that, in 2015, De Los Rios was counseled for using his position as a law enforcement officer to obtain information about his ex's travel plans on a ferry.  

The officer's ex-wife also sought a domestic-violence restraining order against him in 2014, records show. 

Broward Sheriff's Office

Miami-Dade police Sgt. Gustavo De Los Rios pictured in 2017 mugshot following domestic violence-related arrest in Broward County.

February's incident involving De Los Rios and the teen allegedly happened just several months before a city of Miami police officer was accused of trying to kick a suspect who was also on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Miami police said the suspect in that case, David Suazo, 31, crashed a stolen Jeep and fled from officers on foot on May 3.

When officers caught up to Suazo in the Culmer Place Apartments in Overtown, he was combative and an officer stunned Suazo with a Taser gun, police said.

However, cellphone video showed an officer, later identified as Mario Figueroa, attempting to kick Suazo in the head as the man was face down on the ground and motionless.

Suazo was taken to a hospital after complaining of chest pains. At the hospital, Figueroa's body camera recorded Suazo saying, "Missed trying to kick. Learn how to aim, my boy."

"If I wanted to kick you, you know I would have kicked you, right," Figueroa responded.

Figueroa, a two-year veteran of the department, was fired a week later after the video was made public.  He was also charged with assault, a second-degree misdemeanor. His trial is set for October.

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