Police

Miami Police Union: Cops Accused of Excessive Force Had Been "Attacked"

The Miami police union is siding with officers accused of excessive force in a May 6, 2022, rough arrest that was captured on video.
The Miami police union is siding with officers accused of excessive force in a May 6, 2022, rough arrest that was captured on video. Screenshots via @OnlyInDade/Instagram
Cinco de Mayo is the annual celebration of the Mexican army's 1862 victory at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. While Americans have long been criticized for mistaking the occasion for Mexican Independence Day (see September 16, 1810) and using the date as an excuse to wear sombreros and guzzle two-for-one margaritas, it seems at least one group of Wynwood clubgoers commemorated in the wee hours of Friday, May 6, with a brawl that left one man bruised, bloodied, and now accusing the two Miami police officers who intervened of exercising excessive force.

Though the fight started between two groups of men, Christian Llanos told WSVN, one group fled as the officers arrived at the scene outside Centro Wynwood nightclub on NW 23rd Street. Security-camera footage and cellphone video later shared on the Only in Dade Instagram account appear to show one of the officers being punched as he attempts to break up the scuffle, and then an officer pummeling Llanos at least five times as he lies on the pavement while a fellow cop drags a handcuffed man several feet.

Llanos and three other men were charged with battery on a police officer, and at least one of the four was reportedly hospitalized. While Llanos and another man appear bloodied and bruised in their mugshot photos, Miami Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union president Tommy Reyes tells New Times in an emailed statement that the two officers who responded to the incident are the actual victims, and that one suffered swelling to the face just under his left eye, a laceration to his leg, and a foot injury during the arrest.

"[The officers] did nothing wrong and were simply defending themselves from an unprovoked attack while trying to defend a person who could be dead or seriously injured had they not stepped in," Reyes wrote. "The Miami FOP and myself stand firmly behind these two Officers."
In a statement on Twitter, the police union came to the officers' defense, writing that the officers "are not punching bags" and that they had been "attacked."

According to the arrest report obtained by WSVN, one officer stated that one of the men "hit me in my rib area/waist and grabbed me aggressively and pushed me," and another officer stated he was "struck on my right side of my face."

According to Florida law, law enforcement officers are justified in using force they reasonably believe is necessary to defend themselves or others from bodily harm while making an arrest. The Miami Police Department's use of force policy states that officers should only use the "minimum amount of force that is necessary" to arrest someone or defend themselves, and the level of force should be consistent with the subject’s level of resistance.

Reyes tells New Times that "it's not against policy to punch someone who is on the ground."

After being released from Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, Llanos told WSVN that the officers' actions were "uncalled for."

The Miami Police Department said it was investigating the officers' use of force.

"The Miami Police Department is aware of a video circulating on social media depicting Miami Police officers involved in a use of force against subjects involved in a fight," the statement reads. "Pursuant to its internal investigation protocols, the Miami Police Department is actively reviewing all video and testimonial evidence related to the use of force and will take appropriate action if any violations are identified."
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Alex DeLuca is a staff writer at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca