MIAMI BEACH – (CBS4) - The party scene on South Beach took a sobering turn this weekend when two people were arrested by Miami Beach police officers whose use of force is now raising questions.
The videos now posted on YouTube show 25-year-old Maryland visitor Sara Greenback apparently being slammed onto the sand. The police union referred to this maneuver as a “redirection to the ground.”
Former Miami police chief Kenneth Harms watched the video at the request of CBS4 News.
“Was it too much force? I don’t know,” Harms said. “It certainly didn’t result in any injuries I could see and it was a soft surface. If you’re talking about someone being thrown to a hard surface, that’s another matter. What needs to be explained is how the crowd collected, where it came from and if this was an oversold venue.”
“After reviewing several YouTube videos of the incident, the Department has concluded that the officer acted appropriately while affecting the arrests and dealing with the volatile situation at hand,” said Det. Juan F. Sanchez, spokesman for the Miami Beach police department, in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Sara Greenback had bad been kicked out of the event known as Funkfashion Show because of unruly behavior. She was charged with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. She has since been released from jail on bond.
In another YouTube video, a police lieutenant is shown grabbing a man with a Yankees cap and throwing him to the ground. The man – later identified as Abelardo Soto – was arrested and charged with striking a police officer with an unknown weapon, causing a deep cut.
The officer was treated and released from Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach after receiving stitches for the gash on his forehead, police officials said Tuesday.
Soto’s official charge was aggravated battery on an officer and resisting arrest with violence.
The police union characterizes the arrests as a one-time incident during a violent weekend when people act crazy. Helms said the city needs to make sure officers acted appropriately.
“The officers clearly had to make a decision on what to do and how quickly to do it before things got out of control. What needs to happen is complete, impartial and thorough investigation.”
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