MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami police officer who was caught on camera trying to kick the head of a man in handcuffs has been arrested and charged.
On May 3rd, Officer Mario Figueroa took part in the arrest of alleged car theft suspect David Vladim Suazo. In a video recorded by Lisa Harrell, Figueroa is seen running into the camera’s view and taking a large kick at the head of Suazo who was already face down on the ground and motionless.
In a video taken later while Suazo was in the hospital awaiting medical review after complaining of chest pains, Suazo berates Figueroa for unsuccessfully trying to kick him in the head.
“Missed on the kick. Learn how to aim my boy,” he said.
“If I wanted to kick you, you know, I would have kicked you right,” replied Figueroa.
Figueroa was relieved of duty the same day it happened.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said in a statement that charging Figueroa sends a message to the community. It read in part:
“The Miami Police Department has also begun the termination process for Officer Figueroa. The Miami Police Department would like to assure the community that it will not tolerate any transgressions against the badge its officers are meant to wear with honor, and remains committed to maintaining the highest possible standards of ethics, transparency, and accountability.”
“Officer Mario Figueroa can have no excuse for the alleged actions seen on the initial videotape,” noted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “This community demands respect for all individuals taken into custody. Any evidence of abuse, which is also evidence of a crime, will assist us in going forward with this case.”
The Miami Fraternal Order of Police is standing by Figueroa, releasing a statement late Tuesday saying, in part:
“Since Officer Figueroa never kicked the suspect and simply gestured to make him comply, no use of force report is warranted. The Fraternal Order of Police has all the confidence in the criminal justice system as well as our due process rights that Officer Figueroa will be vindicated.”
Figueroa has been charged with one count of assault, a 2nd degree misdemeanor. An arraignment date has not yet been set.