MIAMI (WSVN) - Two Miami-Dade Police officers are facing charges after surveillance video appeared to show one sergeant slapping a teenager that was handcuffed and an officer appearing to tamper evidence.
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez announced Sgt. Manuel Reguiero and Officer Alexander Gonzalez are facing criminal charges.
“I am extremely disappointed by the actions of our officers,” said Perez.
The charges stem from surveillance video of a 2018 arrest that appears to show Reguiero, a 20-year veteran, slapping Bryan Crespo while he was in handcuffs.
“Sgt. Manuel Reguiero is being charged with one count of battery, which is a second-degree misdemeanor,” said Fernandez Rundle.
Police said Reguiero and Gonzalez were among the officers who raided Crespo’s home near Northwest 28th Street and 25th Avenue, in Northwest Miami-Dade, March 15.
Crespo, then 18 years old, was being investigated for trying to sell stolen air bags, but during that takedown, things took a violent turn.
The home surveillance video, which surfaced in October, captures Reguiero quickly striking Crespo in the face with his left hand.
C. Michael Cornely, Reguiero’s attorney, released a statement to 7News that read in part, “The charge is over reach by the State Attorney’s Office. The suspect was about to spit on him, and we believe it is a right of self defense.”
In a phone interview, Cornely said his client is not being treated fairly.
“He is the sergeant in charge of that unit, and he should be given a lot of credit,” he said, “but the thanks that he got was being arrested by the State Attorney’s Office.”
Cornely also said that, while he did not see the entire video, he believes Reguiero was in the right.
“I think a police officer, no matter what the circumstances, are trained to act in a way that protects themselves or other people,” he said.
Gonzalez is also facing charges after, prosecutors said, newly released video appears to show him leaving Crespo’s home with a device stuffed inside of a pillowcase. Investigators said that device was a battery that Gonzalez thought was a hard drive that contained video of the assault.
“That was a device that was removed from the residence, that power pack, that battery backup that belonged to the surveillance system that was removed from that residence as a way to tamper with evidence that would completely indict an officer from using excessive force in a case,” said Perez.
Reguiero has bonded out of jail. Gonzalez has the option to surrender.
Crespo remains behind bars.
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