The swagger is back, baby! The University of Miami Hurricanes are winning nationally televised games, threatening a national title run, and pissing off racists by wearing huge gold jewelry. And this past Saturday, delirious Canes fans finally turned Hard Rock Stadium into something approximating the glory days at the Orange Bowl.
Of course a Hurricane party sometimes gets a little out of hand, which seems to have been the case for 30-year-old fan Bridget Freitas. Police say that she was drunk and disorderly and that when they began to haul her out of the stands, she smacked one of the cops in the face.
It's what came next that has the incident all over the national news, though: One of the officers carrying her, a muscular, so-far-unidentified man, punched her in the face after she slapped him. The brutal exchange was caught on cell-phone video:
Miami-Dade Police say they're investigating the video to decide whether the cop broke policy by striking the woman.
“After responding to a disturbance, the person in the video was being removed from the event by our officers for being disorderly," the department says in a statement. "She was subsequently arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct/breach of the peace. Supervisory personnel are aware of the video and are reviewing the incident to ensure compliance with our policies and procedures.”
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The police union, of course, was quick to defend the officer. “All he did was react to her actions,” John Rivera, head of Miami-Dade's Police Benevolent Association, told the Miami Herald.
That may be true, but police are supposed to be trained in deescalation, and force is supposed to be used to subdue suspects, not as a punitive measure. Four officers were carrying Freitas out of the stadium — was punching her in the face really the necessary force needed?
The video recalls another recent case in South Florida, when a Miami Beach cop was caught on camera punching and kicking a handcuffed woman who had taken a swing at him. In that case, the officer was suspended for 160 hours.
So far, only Freitas is facing a day in court. The Canes fan has been charged with battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.