Miami panel could look into rough arrest of man who escaped custody

Manhunt for Leskeil Richards continues

Leskeil Richards, who later escaped police custody in the hospital, is still on the run, which could delay investigative measures.

MIAMI – One cop threw punches, another kicked a man whose face was left bloody during a struggle to put on handcuffs Sunday.

That viral video of the arrest of Leskeil Richards is something that Miami’s 13-member CIP, or Civilian Investigative Panel, could decide to look into on their own as a community impact case.

“It has an impact on the trust within the community regardless of whether the complainant personally wants to make a complaint,” said Cristina Beamud, director of Miami’s CIP.

At issue for witnesses and internal affairs is a controversial headlock by a City of Miami police officer. The department’s use of force policy bans chokeholds outright, but the manual says “this does not include vascular neck restraints.”

Richards, 25, ended up in the hospital, where he slipped out of custody Monday night.

He is still on the loose two days later.

“I got stuff all on my face, bruises all on my body. I caught seizures and I don’t even catch seizures,” Richards said in a FaceTime call with his family early Tuesday morning that was exclusively shared with Local 10 News. “I’m in fear for my life. You don’t know how scared I am right now.”

It was an unusual escape from custody in Jackson Memorial Hospital that detectives and Richards’ own relatives are still trying to figure out.

“You mean to tell me that he was able to escape all of that and it was supposed to be secure and police everywhere around that? This is not adding up,” said Iesha Richards, Leskeil’s sister.

Leskeil Richards, 25, told family he believes one officer in particular is out to get him after his rough arrest was caught on video Sunday.

Officer Mario Sevilla was involved in the rough arrest. He was also involved in the fatal shooting of a robbery suspect two weeks prior, which means he would have had to have been cleared by a psychological screening to return to the street, per department policy.

The Miami Police Department is launching an internal investigation into Richards’ arrest.

Richards, who lives in Sunrise, was a passenger without a seatbelt Sunday, police said. His sister Iesha was behind the wheel and ticketed for not making a complete stop at a stop sign. Only after the struggle caught on camera did officers learn that Richards had an outstanding warrant out of Broward County for violating his probation.

With the manhunt still continuing for Richards, that likely stalls any possible civilian investigative action.

“I think we’re probably better off waiting to see what happens before initiating an investigation without having an eyewitness,” Beamud said.

If you see Richards, you are urged to not approach him, but to call 911.

About the Author:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.