MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A small but vocal group of protesters marched through Miami late Friday afternoon, chanting “black lives matter” and saying they were upset about alleged police brutality.
They said they were particularly upset about a recent incident in which cell phone video was posted on social media earlier this month that showed a man who appeared to have been punched by a Miami Police officer after he was handcuffed and placed in to the back of a police car.
About 25 protesters met on the corner of N.W. 67th St. and N.W. 12th Ave in Liberty Square not far from where that incident happened. They marched through the “Pork and Beans” project and ended up at a Miami Police substation at N.W. 10th Ave. and 62nd St.
“Today we are protesting because black lives matter,” said Ruth Jeannoel, an activist from the Power U Center for Social Change. “We have an incident in which a young man was beaten up in the back of a police car. We have to step and make sure that police are held accountable.”
“It’s not just once incident,” Jeannoel told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “There have been incidents all over the place and all over the state.”
Annie Thomas, another activist with the Power U Center for Social Change, said “There’s a sense of fear when you deal with police with every day encounters. And how could you allow this officer to stay at home with pay during the investigation. You just don’t feel safe.”
Miami Police Major Delrish Moss said Officer John Hinson was suspended with pay because of contractual obligations with police union. He said there would be a thorough investigation by his department.
“There is not a lot we can say about this investigation but what we did though is we acted very quickly. The minute we found out about this we took the officer’s gun and his badge and right now that officer is at home. He receives a fair investigative process,” said Moss. “The citizens deserve a fair process.”
Moss said he did not know how long the investigation would take.
Tony Zaldivar, who said he was punched in the police car, told CBS4 on August 18th that he “got surprised and sucker punched” and “felt horrible being sucker punched” since he couldn’t defend himself while in handcuffs.
According to a police report, Officer Hinson observed Zaldivar loitering in the area of N.W. 12th Ave. and 62nd Terrace.
The 6-year veteran claimed Zaldivar began cursing and yelling. After Zaldivar reportedly refused to stop, he was placed in the back of a police cruiser.
Zaldivar, who said he’s a volunteer soccer coach and was “hanging out” in the area, said he had no idea why he was arrested.
“I felt it was wrong that I was under arrest,” he said. “I asked what I was under arrest for and I never got told what I was under arrest for.”
“Thank God the footage was there because it speaks for itself,” said Zaldivar. “If the footage wasn’t there it would have been his word against my word.”
Zaldivar’s attorney, David Kubiliun, told CBS4, “When he (Zaldivar) gets to the station, he is actually PTA’d which is a promise to appear. So he’s never actually booked into the jail—just to show you the severity of what the underlying charge is.”
The cell phone video was posted on social media. Within hours of being made aware of the footage, Miami Police suspended Hinson with pay while internal affairs investigates.