MIAMI (CBS4) – A former Miami Police Chief who was the city’s top cop during some tumultuous times says Miami police should thoroughly review an incident in which a veteran detective is seen punching a suspect who raced into a crime scene.
The Miami Police union said that the detective was “100 per cent justified” and the police department has found “no wrongdoing” so far. But former Police Chief Kenneth Harms says all officers have to be very careful when they punch anyone in the head.
“Generally you are better off not punching anyone if you can avoid it. You are better off restraining them instead of knocking them into submission, particularly if there is enough of a police presence to restrain that person,” said Harms, who was Chief from 1978 through 1984 and who dealt with numerous confrontations.
“Sometimes in the heat of battle police officers lash out,” Harms told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “Clearly what we don’t want to see is a police officer hitting someone with his first or a hard instrument that in many cases can mean lethal force, leading to serious injury or even death.”
D’Oench showed Harms the videotape of the incident.
On the tape, Anthony Walker is captured racing across a crime scene tape, after his brother Antwan Walker does the same thing.
Detective Bosch, who has more than 25 years experience, is seeing restraining Walker in a headlock and walking him back away from the scene where the brothers have rushed to see the body of their brother Brandon Walker, who was shot and killed.
While struggling with Walker, Bosch is seen jabbing Walker three times in the area of his face. Then Walker is seen grabbing Bosch’s necktie with his left arm and pulling at it.
As Bosch pushes Walker away, he punches him in the face.
Walker’s mother is also seen on the tape crossing the crime scene. She is pushed back by officers.
“This is a very emotional scene,” said Harms. “Obviously police officers need to do what they can to protect the crime scene. That is extremely important when you have to charge someone with a crime and important to preserve evidence. Police in these situations have a difficult time handling people who violate police lines.”
“You try to hit someone in the solar plexus to take control of him and hit a nerve group. that is the preferable method. What needs to be established is whether such force was justified. It may be an issue of retraining that is necessary for the officer or he may have been within his rights.”
Both brothers were charged with tampering with a crime scene and battery on an officer.
In bond court, Anthony Walker was directed to stay away from the officer once he was released after posting bond and the Judge said he would be on house arrest while continuing to live with his mother.
“Detective Bosch was 100 per cent justified,” said Sgt. Javier Ortiz, President of the Fraternal Order of Police. “I understand the family is upset from the loss of a loved one. But securing the crime scene is a priority here.”
“When you watch the tape you clearly see the subject pulling his hands up and balling up his fists and there’s an attempt to choke Detective Bosch,” he said.
Ortiz told D’oench, “Everything Bosch did was within policy. You have to make a split decision on how to handle a situation. Often family members feel if you taser someone, that is too much. If you spray someone, that’s too much.”
“We don’t wake up in the morning thinking we are going to take someone’s life or injure someone,” he said. “We are here to protect the public. How would you feel if someone who hurts your loved ones gets off on a technicality because the crime scene was obstructed.”
D’Oench asked Ortiz if he could speak with Bosch but he said Bosch was not allowed to comment.
On Monday, Miami Police Sgt. Freddy Cruz said, “If there’s any wrong doing our police department will investigate. At this moment, there isn’t any wrongdoing that we can see. The officer’s simply acting in the line of duty. They’re protecting the crime scene, protecting themselves and protecting the public.”
Brandon Walker’s mother declined to comment on Tuesday, according to a family spokeswoman.
On Monday, Walker’s aunt, Pat Lammons, said, “I don’t think he should’ve got hit. He was just trying to get to his brother. Unbelievable. I’m looking at my nephew’s body and I see both my nephews and my niece, stepdaughter trying to get there. It just hurts.”
There have been no arrests in Brandon Walker’s murder.