SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials are being accused of crossing the line after a video appearing to show a Miami-Dade Police officer striking a handcuffed suspect surfaced.
Some residents who witnessed the arrest were stunned to see police hit a man who was already in handcuffs after a traffic stop, Wednesday afternoon.
Miami-Dade Police have since launched an internal investigation to determine what happened in the video as well as before the camera started rolling.
The video, taken Wednesday by 11-year-old Angelina Nicholas, across the street from the arrest near Southwest 158th Court and 144th Street, caught officers trying to place a man in handcuffs. That man, identified as 26-year-old Jacksonville Gaston, was being placed in the back of a squad car as he shouted insults at officers.
“I started video taping when I saw them trying to struggle,” Nicholas said.
An officer is then seen slapping the suspect twice before the residents recording the video ask the officers to stop.
In the video, her father, Geoffrey Nicholas, could be heard trying to stop officers from hitting Gaston.
“After the cuffs were on him, then why punch him? Why punch him while in handcuffs?” the elder Nicholas said.
He said he saw the whole thing and told police that he got it on camera.
“I’m yelling, as you heard in the video, ‘Hey, hey!’ like that because I’m saying somebody is watching you,” said Nicholas.
He described to 7News the events that led up to what transpired in the video.
“The kid was being unruly,” he said. “I saw the police start making mistakes. He’s still cursing and carrying on. He got the cop upset. You could see the cop lost it.”
According to the arrest report, Gaston did something that triggered one of the officers to react the way he did.
Part of the report read, “He then tensed up once more and spit in Ofc. H. Rodriguez’s face. Ofc. H. Rodriguez then delivered a few distractionary strikes to the defendant’s face.”
MDPD Director Juan Perez released a statement in response to the video which read in part, “The incident, in its entirety, is currently under internal investigation to ensure that the officers’ actions were in accordance with established policies and procedures and consistent with the Miami-Dade Police Department’s deeply held core values of integrity, respect, service and fairness.”
Gaston is being charged with resisting arrest, battery on a law enforcement officer and fleeing and eluding from an officer.
“I have nothing against police. The police have a dangerous job,” said the elder Nicholas. “It looked a bit excessive to me. It didn’t look right to me.”
Gaston was home Thursday night but refused to speak with 7News.
It remains unknown what charges, if any, the officer seen slapping Gaston in the video will face.
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