Captured on cellphone video kicking a handcuffed man in the head, a Miami police officer has been suspended with pay pending an investigation into the blatant use of excessive force. Although several officers witnessed the assault against the restrained suspect who was not resisting, the arrest report failed to mention the overzealous officer kicking the man’s unprotected head.
On Thursday morning, Miami police observed David Vladim Suazo, 31, driving a stolen 2000 Jeep Cherokee when they hit the sirens and attempted to pull over his vehicle. According to the police report, Suazo drove toward an apartment complex and crashed into a wall before fleeing on foot.
The report states that Suazo took a “fighting stance” as Officer Mario Figueroa approached him. After ignoring the officer’s commands to get on the ground, Suazo reportedly began cussing at Figueroa when the officer deployed his Taser to no effect.
Suazo eventually dropped to the ground after another officer fired his Taser at him. The arrest report neglected to note that Figueroa suddenly ran toward Suazo after he was handcuffed and kicked him in the head.
According to a cellphone video taken by Lisa Harrell, a former Florida International University student who resides at the Culmer Apartments, Suazo remains on the ground with his hands behind his back as the officer cuffs his wrists. Despite the fact that Suazo does not appear to be resisting, Figueroa abruptly runs toward him and kicks him in the face.
“He ran around and then he was face-to-face with police,” Harrell told the Miami Herald. “He put his hands on his head. The police said lay down. He did. And then the police just came and kicked him.”
On Facebook, Harrell posted, “He was down already. Didn’t have to kick him!!! I will not let this go unnoticed.”
“I was disgusted by it,” Miami’s mayor, Francis Suarez, said in an interview on Friday. “I think it’s evident that the officer acted irresponsibly and inappropriately. I was happy that our police chief acted immediately to suspend the officer.”
“I was shocked and appalled by what I saw,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Suazo was charged with third-degree grand theft, fleeing and eluding a police officer, reckless driving with damage to a property or person, driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, and resisting an officer without violence.
On Thursday, Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina suspended Figueroa with pay after reviewing the video, while Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle ordered an investigation into the officer’s actions during the arrest.