Update, 5:30 p.m.: Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez says he has initiated the process to terminate the still-unidentified officer who struck a Black woman at the Miami International Airport. South Florida Police Benevolent Association President Steadman Stahl says in a press release "there should not be a rush to judgment." Stahl adds: "It is our responsibility to ensure his right to due process is provided."
Against the backdrop of protests decrying police violence, a video that surfaced on social media last night shows a Miami-Dade police officer striking a Black woman in the face at Miami International Airport.
Miami documentarian Billy Corben posted the video on Twitter. It appears to show body-worn camera footage viewed on a phone or camera screen. The woman can be heard talking, then arguing, with two officers in the airport terminal. Some of what the officers say is difficult to make out, possibly because both are wearing facemasks, but one of the officers seems to egg the woman on and say, "Punch him." The woman, who is not wearing a facemask, clearly responds, "I really should."
She tells one of the officers, "You acting like you white when you Black," then confronts him face to face. The woman says something unintelligible and then asks, "What you gonna do?"
Almost immediately, the officer strikes the woman in the face, grabs her, and pushes her onto the floor.
Two more officers approach while the woman is on the floor and appear to help hold her down while one officer handcuffs her.
"She head-butted me," says the officer who struck the woman.
The video does not show the woman head-butt the officer.
As of this morning, no one in the video has been publicly identified.
Shortly after Corben released the footage, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez tweeted that he was "shocked and angered" by the video. Ramirez said he had launched an investigation into the incident and ordered that the officers be relieved of duty. (In a followup email to media, Ramirez clarified that only one officer, the one who struck the woman, would be relieved of duty.)
Ramirez also said he had requested that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle investigate the use of force.
I am shocked and angered by a body cam video that i just saw involving one of our officers. I’ve immediately initiated an investigation and ordered that the involved officers be relieved of duty. Actions such as these undermine the hard work that we have invested in (1 of 3)...— Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez III (@MDPD_Director) July 2, 2020
I have also just spoken to our State Attorney @KathyFndzRundle and asked that her office immediately become involved in the investigation. (3 of 3)— Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez III (@MDPD_Director) July 2, 2020
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New Times requested but has not yet received the body-worn camera footage from the department, which also did not respond to a request for comment late last night.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez tweeted that the incident was "appalling."
"It's excessive use of force and unnecessary," Giménez tweeted.
This is appalling. It’s excessive use of force and unnecessary. That’s NOT what our @MiamiDadePD are trained to do. @MDPD_Director Ramirez has ordered the officer relieved of duty & investigation is underway. This is why I instituted body cameras & MDPD is reviewing all footage. https://t.co/KHDsEohBym— Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) July 2, 2020