Video: Miami-Dade Cop Hits Handcuffed Suspect in Face
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Video: Miami-Dade Cop Hits Handcuffed Suspect in Face

Miami-Dade County cops burst into the home of 18-year-old Bryan Crespo this past March to arrest him for allegedly stealing airbags from local cars. But according to surveillance video New Times has obtained, an MDPD officer identified as Sgt. Manuel Regueiro decided to wallop Crespo in the face after he was already handcuffed.

Surveillance video taken from inside Crespo's home shows that, despite the fact Crespo was complying with police and already restrained, Regueiro hit Crespo square in the face as other officers walked the arrestee out of the home.

MDPD Director Juan Perez tells New Times through a spokesperson that the department has seen the video and that the officer is currently suspended while Internal Affairs investigates.

"Upon becoming aware of the video in question, a criminal, Internal Affairs investigation was initiated along with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office," MDPD spokesperson Lee Cowart said. "The officer was relieved of duty, pending the outcome of the investigation, which remains open at this time. As such, in accordance with Florida statutes, no additional information regarding the case can be released until the investigation is concluded."

Cowart added that this "has been an ongoing investigation" but did not say when MDPD became aware of the incident.

Crespo's lawyer, Cam Cornish, told New Times via email that the video deeply upset him.

"I was disturbed after I watched the video because there’s no reason for the officer to have punched Bryan," Cornish said. "But after I watched a couple more times, I found something even more disturbing: Right after the officer punches Bryan, none of the other officers react, and there were five other officers within an arm’s length of Bryan. It’s as if they are immune to that behavior."

Cornish added he believes that the video shows Regueiro "broke the law in a couple different ways," including by committing battery and by violating Crespo's Fourth Amendment rights against excessive force.

"He did it because he could," Cornish said. "He did it because he wanted to. And he did it because he knew that he wasn’t going to get caught. It just so happens that we have proof of what he did."

News clips show that Regueiro has been involved in violent incidents before. In 2009, a woman named Sarah Myles said a group of MDPD cops broke her wrist and made up charges against her. Myles said Reguiero tackled her, and that when she landed, her wrist snapped. She was acquitted of her charges in 2011.

According to new court records and arrest documents in Crespo’s case, Crespo had been arrested repeatedly in 2017 for a series of petty crimes, including driving without a valid license and cannabis possession. During his second arrest in 2017, he was also charged with possessing a stolen airbag. Apparently, there had been a rash of airbag thefts around Dade County at the time. MDPD detectives wrote in police documents that, while Crespo was sitting in jail at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Facility, he spoke on recorded jailhouse calls about stealing and selling other airbags.

So this past March 15, MDPD executed an arrest warrant on his home in Allapattah. Cops charged Crespo with conspiring to deal stolen property, a felony. Video from inside Crespo's home shows that MDPD cops broke down his door and barged in wearing military gear. A child was inside the house and watched the cops march in.

Crespo seemed to comply pretty quickly with the officers and calmly walked out with his hands pinned behind his back. He was shirtless. As he neared the door, Regueiro walked up and whacked Crespo right in the face. Crespo's head snapped back as the cop's hand hit his head.

Miami-area officers seem to have a consistent problem with hitting defenseless people. Earlier this year, Miami Officer Mario Figueroa was arrested and charged with battery after video showed him taking a running kick at the head of a man who was handcuffed and lying on the ground. In a different case, MPD Officer John Askew was filmed stomping on a woman's head. Askew, however, did not receive any sort of punishment from Internal Affairs.

And earlier this year, MDPD Director Perez called an impromptu press conference to defend his officers after New Times published video of a group of MDPD cops punching and violently detaining a man who had been initially pulled over for littering.

In February of this year, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenes vetoed the creation of a civilian-led police oversight panel for Dade County cops. Before the vote, Director Perez argued that the panel was "not needed."

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