MIAMI – Two men are facing charges after a fracas with police officers that was captured on camera Monday evening at Miami International Airport.
Police say an unruly passenger commandeered an airport transport cart from an employee and then got into a physical confrontation with officers who were called to respond as a large group of people gathered around Gate H8.
Mayfrer Serranopaca, 30, of Kissimmee, faces a number of charges, including battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence and incite to riot. He appeared before a judge on Tuesday and is being held on $29,500 bond. In court, he told the judge he was flying to the Dominican Republic to see his mother, who he says is sick.
Alberto Yanez-Suarez, 32, from Odessa, Texas, is accused of grabbing and pulling officers who were in the process of arresting Serranopaca. He faces charges of battery of a police officer and resisting an officer with violence. He did not appear before a judge and has since posted bond.
He did not respond to questions after being released from jail Tuesday evening.
The incident at the airport that was caught on cell phone camera happened shortly after 6:30 p.m. Monday.
The video shows an officer attempting to restrain a man as a crowd of people surrounded him. At one point, the two separate, and the video shows the man, who police say is Serranopaca, charge at the officer with his arms flailing.
Eventually, the officer breaks free and pulls out his gun.
According to an arrest affadavit, an officer reported being “struck multiple times by other unknown passengers” and “drew his firearm and pointed it in the direction of the incited crowd.” The officer said he feared for his and another officer’s safety, according to the police report.
The officers said they commanded the crowd to stay back and kept their distance until more police arrived.
There were no major injuries reported. Police said Serranopaca complained of feeling ill and arm pain and was treated at the scene. A responding officer was also treated after being bitten on the head by Serranopaca, investigators said.
“An unruly passenger on a flight to Santo Domingo was upset about something,” said witness Mike Mailak, who captured the incident on his cell phone camera. “I wasn’t sure if it was his class of travel, his check bag fees, a delay, something.”
Serranopaca’s flight to Santo Domingo on Air Century Airline had been delayed, and the arrest report states that he confronted a Turkish Airlines employee on the transport cart, demanding to be contacted by someone from the airline he was having an issue with.
After being told by that employee that he couldn’t help him, because he worked for a different airline, Serranopaca snatched the cart’s key, breaking it and preventing the employee from driving away, the report says.
Police say they approached Serranopaca, who was in the cart, and tried to calm him down, but they claim he incited a crowd of other frustrated passengers to gather.
An officer stated that when he reached for his radio to call for backup, Serranopaca grabbed his arm. The officer struck Serranopaca, and the physical struggle ensued.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told Local 10 News, situations like this can really spoil the holiday season for everyone and she is urging the public to have patience.
“There was an unfortunate incident that took place. Our police officers were under attack and they followed the protocol, they backed away from the scene and order was restored. These things are very unfortunate, they really spoil the holiday season for everyone. Please everyone be calm, everyone be patient. If you see something, say something. It’s the time to help, not to take a video and share it.”
Officials are expecting 165,000 passengers to pass through Miami International Airport daily for the next several days during the busy holiday season.
The airport released a statement Monday night that read:
“Like airports across the country, MIA is seeing record-high passenger numbers this winter travel season. Unfortunately, that passenger growth has come with a record-high increase nationwide in bad behavior as well, such as the incident this evening at MIA. Disruptive passengers face police arrest, civil penalties up to $37,000, being banned from flying, and potential federal prosecution. We have worked so hard to rebound from the pandemic and make traveling safe again, so we can visit our loved ones. Please travel responsibly by getting to the airport extra early, being patient, complying with the federal mask law and airport staff, limiting your alcohol consumption, and notifying police at the first sign of bad behavior by calling 911.”
Aside from the bond, Serranopaca was ordered to stay away from the victim, the driver of the golf cart. He was also ordered to stay away from Miami International Airport unless he has a ticket to travel.