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5 Miami Beach police officers face battery charges after rough arrests

Officers caught on camera beating, kicking 2 men at hotel

Five Miami Beach police officers will face criminal charges in a rough arrest that took place last week at a South Beach hotel, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Monday. She showed a series of videos of the incident.
Five Miami Beach police officers will face criminal charges in a rough arrest that took place last week at a South Beach hotel, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Monday. She showed a series of videos of the incident.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Five Miami Beach police officers are facing battery charges in connection with the rough arrests of two men last week, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Monday.

The state attorney said the charges are first-degree misdemeanors and additional charges may be filed as the investigation remains ongoing.

Those facing charges are Sgt. Jose Perez, Officer Kevin Perez (no relation to Jose Perez), Officer Robert Sabater, Officer David Rivas and Officer Steven Serrano.

They all surrendered at Miami Beach Police headquarters Monday morning, Fernandez Rundle said.

Surveillance video released Monday by the State Attorney’s Office from the Royal Palm Hotel shows Sgt. Jose Perez kicking Dalonta Crudup three times before slamming his head into the ground, although Crudup was already in handcuffs. Fernandez Rundle also showed bodyworn camera footage that she said helped show the July 26 incident.

Perez was just promoted to sergeant earlier this year.

WATCH: Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle holds news conference on officers’ arrests:

Fernandez Rundle said Officer Kevin Perez also kicked Crudup, 24, at least four times, according to the video.

She said the video shows Khalid Vaughn, who was filming the incident about 12 to 15 feet away, backing up as officers approached him, yet Sabater charged at him, tackling him to the floor and repeatedly punching him.

She said officers cornered Vaughn and he was repeatedly struck by both Rivas and Serrano.

“With my team, when we saw that kick to the head, and then we replayed it and saw all the kicks that preceded it — it was just unfathomable. It was unspeakable. It was just inexcusable,” Fernandez Rundle said, referring to what happened to Crudup. “And I’m not alone in that feeling. I watched [Miami Beach Police] Chief [Richard Clements] watch that video and his head just went right down on the desk.”

According to a police report, the officers claimed they were trying to stop Crudup, who was riding a blue scooter last Monday, for illegally parking and said the man struck an officer with the scooter while leaving the scene.

Cellphone footage captured officers surrounding the Royal Palm Hotel where police reportedly caught up with the man and things turned physical.

“I got beat up, I got stitches, went to the hospital,” Crudup said.

He told Local 10 News that he was indeed on a scooter, but claimed he didn’t illegally park and never struck an officer.

Law enforcement sources tell Local 10 News that criminal charges are expected Monday against some or all of the Miami Beach police officers who were involved in the alleged rough arrests of three men exactly a week ago.
Law enforcement sources tell Local 10 News that criminal charges are expected Monday against some or all of the Miami Beach police officers who were involved in the alleged rough arrests of three men exactly a week ago.

“He backed up when he asked him to, and the cops came out of nowhere for no reason,” Sharif Cobb, who was also arrested, said.

Cobb, 27, said he began recording the incident with his cellphone, along with Vaughn.

“I started recording it. They already got him in handcuffs. They beat him, turned around, charged me down, beat me ... punched me, elbowed me in the face,” Vaughn said. “I literally got jumped by officers.”

A police report says Vaughn, 28, was arrested for impeding, provoking and harassing officers.

[ALSO SEE: Viewers react to Miami Beach rough arrest videos and charges against cops]

Clements released a statement last week, saying he reviewed the video related to the arrests and decided to initiate the internal investigation, and he requested that the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office conduct a further review.

“I have serious concerns about the force utilized after Mr. Crudup was in custody, including the level of force utilized in the subsequent arrest of Mr. Vaughn,” Clements said. “This is not indicative of the hard-working men and women of the Miami Beach Police Department and will not be tolerated.”

On Monday, Clements told reporters that the police department would learn from this incident and do better in the future.

“This is by no means at all a reflection of the dedicated men and women of the Miami Beach Police Department,” he said. “Moving forward, I can tell you that my staff and I promise you, as individuals and as an agency, that we will learn from this. And we will grow from this.”

All five officers have been relieved of duty as the investigation continues.

“I appreciate the efforts of the Miami-Dade State Attorney and our own police department,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in a statement Monday. “The video is not who we are, which is why our department took decisive action within hours of the incident.”


About the Authors:

Reporter Rosh Lowe is covering the Surfside building collapse and other news for Local 10 News.

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.