This morning, a bystander caught the moment that a Miami police officer ran toward a man handcuffed on the ground — who had another officer restraining him — and kicked him in the head. The bystander posted the video to Facebook, where it quickly received attention.
— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) May 3, 2018
According to a police report obtained by BuzzFeed News, the man was suspected of stealing a Jeep Cherokee. Police had pursued him in the Jeep until he allegedly crashed into a concrete wall, then fled on foot until officers restrained him.
Miami police spokesperson Kenia Fallat told BuzzFeed News that the officer, Mario Figueroa, has been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation of the incident.
Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina addressed the video earlier today on Twitter, stating that the video “depicts a clear violation of policy” and that “the officer has been relieved of duty, and the Miami-Date State Attorney’s office has been contacted.”
Today, the City of Miami Police Department received a video of an incident involving one of my officers. The video depicts a clear violation of policy. The officer has been relieved of duty and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office has been contacted.
-Chief Jorge R. Colina
— Miami PD (@MiamiPD) May 3, 2018
According to multiple outlets, the police report stated that the man “took a fighting stance” when ordered to get on the ground but mentions nothing about kicking. The kicking in the head of a face-down, handcuffed man seems like pertinent information, and it is concerning that it wasn’t included in the report and likely would have gone unknown and unpunished if not for the bystander’s video.
To be clear, we should not minimize the risk that police officers take and the role that they play in keeping our society safe; the men and women of law enforcement put their safety and their lives at risk every single day, and we should appreciate their willingness to do so. But as conservatives often state, power has a creeping and corrupting influence, and the humans who make up our police forces are no less susceptible to those fundamental truths than anyone else.
The type of abuse of a position of authority we saw in Miami today is indicative of what advocates of police reform are referring to when they call for additional police retraining, specifically when it comes to instruction regarding de-escalation.
According to a 2015 report by the Police Executive Research Forum, police recruits spend only eight hours in training to de-escalate situations.
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) October 8, 2017
It is not “anti-police” to want police to be better equipped to handle tense situations, which would help to ensure that fewer lives — both of suspects and police officers — are lost during such incidents.
And it is not “anti-police” to believe that law enforcement should not abuse their power and mistreat defenseless Americans once in custody. As a nation that believes in “rule of law,” this should be what we strive for.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent those of any other individual or entity. Follow Sarah on Twitter: @sarahmquinlan.