MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – On an Instagram post quickly gaining traction on social media on Friday morning, one of the victims of the latest case of alleged excessive and unwarranted use of force by police in Miami-Dade County shared new videos and details about his experience.
Two tourists from New York, Khalid Vaughn, 28, and Sharif Cobb, 27, were in Miami Beach after attending the Rolling Loud music festival when they stumbled upon the violent arrest of a Black man at their hotel. They decided to use their phones to film it. Soon after, they found themselves injured and in handcuffs.
“What was done to me and Sharif is unjust and was a criminal act of violence and Mob Mentality,” Vaughn wrote on Instagram.
More than 20 officers flooded the lobby of the Royal Palm Hotel shortly before 2 a.m., on July 26. Videos from different angles show several officers watched their colleagues kick and punch tourists at the hotel and failed to intervene during the melee.
The evidence on surveillance videos and officers’ body-worn camera videos prompted Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to file misdemeanor battery charges against Officers Kevin Perez, Robert Sabater, David Rivas, Steven Serrano, and Sgt. Jose Perez. There were no mug shots on the record to match the police officers’ arrest affidavits.
It all started when Dalonta Crudup, 24, of Kentucky, panicked, police said. An officer accused Crudup of a scooter parking violation. Crudup sped away in the scooter, injured an officer who was trying to arrest him, ran inside the hotel lobby, and got into the elevator, police said. Surveillance video shows Lt. Jose Reina held him at gunpoint and Crudup followed orders to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back.
Fernandez Rundle said Crudup was in handcuffs when Officer Kevin Perez and Sgt. Jose Perez, who are not related, took turns striking and kicking Crudup. Sabater, Rivas and Serrano were involved in Vaughn’s arrest. Video shows Vaughn was holding up his mobile phone.
“Officers yelled at me to back up, as I began doing so, I was speared by an officer, elbowed in the face by another, then ultimately jumped by officers,” Vaughn wrote.
Videos show Sabater ran to tackle him, put his arms around him, and thrust him towards a large Art Deco column. The plastic bag Vaughn was holding was hurled to the ground. Vaughn, a former college basketball player, managed to keep his balance before a group of officers cornered him. A body-worn camera video shows Rivas punched Vaughn in the ribs. Another video shows Serrano hit him repeatedly until he fell down. He was handcuffed.
“They sat me in front of the hotel bleeding where I was then taunted by officers bragging about how good they beat me. One officer even took the Gatorade that I was carrying,” Vaughn wrote, adding the officer drank the Gatorade, threw the bottle at him, and said, “You look thirsty!”
Vaughn’s friend Cobb was also holding up his phone. The video Vaughn shared shows an officer who is ordering him to move 20 feet away from a group of police officers before he too was arrested.
“As my friend Sharif recorded what was happening to me, an officer then grabbed him by his hair, slammed him to the ground face first,” Vaugh wrote.
According to the arrest report, an officer punched Cobb in the chest and he “suffered a swollen left lip and scrapes on his ankles.” Fire Rescue personnel took Vaughn to Mount Sinai Medical Center where he required stitches.
“I was taken to the hospital for the laceration on my face and to check for brain injuries. Then put back in a police vehicle and left there for approximately 5-6 hrs. Then I was taken to Miami Dade County Jail where I was strip-searched and processed,” Vaughn wrote.
Miami-Dade court records show Vaughn and Cobb were accused of resisting arrest after allegedly violating a new city ordinance. Prosecutors dropped the charges against Vaughn and Cobb and didn’t charge officers in Cobb’s arrest. Fernandez Rundle made clear that this remains an ongoing investigation and that additional charges may be filed.
Crudup faces four felony charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and resisting an officer with violence. Members of Circle of Brotherhood, a Miami nonprofit organization that encourages Black men to get involved in activism, recently met with Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements to ask him to fire all of the officers involved.
Vaughn wrote he had never been arrested before and he added, “I do not believe that all police officers are inherently bad, but the ones I encountered on this day bring shame to the job of being an officer. They are the reason why Black people live in fear.”
EXPLETIVES WARNING: New York tourists Sharif Cobb films officers before arrest
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