Miami police officer Mario Figueroa has been suspended with pay after a video of him kicking the head of a suspect who was on the ground in handcuffs went viral.
Figueroa was suspended by Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina, who said that the circulating video “depicts a clear violation of policy.” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has also launched an investigation that could potentially lead to Figueroa’s prosecution.
“I’m very happy the chief took swift, immediate action,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told news sources.
The alleged encounter occurred before 10 a.m. on Thursday. It was captured on video by Lisa Harrell, a resident of the Culmer Apartments on NW 8th Street and 7th Avenue in the Overtown section of Miami. Harrell witnessed a man running through the courtyards in the apartment complex until he gave himself up and was captured by police.
“He ran around and then he was face-to-face with police,” Harrell said. “He put his hands on his head. The police said lay down. He did. And then the police just came and kicked him.”
She took a 51-second video that shows a man lying on his belly on the ground with his hands over his head. As one officer slowly approaches from the right and bends down to handcuff the man, another officer can be seen running in from the right side of the frame to violently kick the man’s head.
The officer, who was identified as Figueroa, kicked the suspect so hard he almost fell over. Shocked by what she saw, Harrell posted the video on her Facebook page and sent a copy to the city of Miami.
The man Figueroa purportedly kicked has been identified as David Vladim Suazo. He is facing a host of charges ranging from fleeing an officer to grand theft.
According to Suazo’s arrest report, police attempted to capture him after noticing he was driving a vehicle that was reported stolen in Broward County. An officer turned on his siren and ordered Suazo to stop, but he sped away towards Culmer Apartments, where he crashed into a concrete wall and continued fleeing on foot.
He reportedly ignored repeated loud verbal commands to stop and get on the ground. When he was finally confronted by Figueroa, he reportedly took a “fighting stance” and swore at the officer, the report said. At no point does it mention that Figueroa kicked at the Suazo’s head.
Suazo was charged with fleeing a police officer, reckless driving, grand theft, driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, and resisting an officer without violence.
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