Five Miami Beach police officers are facing criminal charges, accused of using excessive force during the arrests of two men at a local hotel last week.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced charges against Sgt. Jose Perez, and officers Kevin Perez, Robert Sabater, Steven Serrano and David Rivas at a news conference Monday.
The five officers have been charged with battery, a first-degree misdemeanor. Additional charges may follow, Rundle said.
“Excessive force can never, ever, ever be an acceptable foundation for the policing of any community,” Rundle said, adding that officers who forget that “do a grave disservice to the people they have sworn to serve.”
The alleged incidents on July 26 were captured on hotel surveillance footage and recorded on police body-worn cameras, according to Rundle, who played edited, pre-captioned and highlighted portions of them at the news conference.
The event began when Daltona Crudup allegedly hit an officer with his scooter, then fled into the Royal Palm hotel, Rundle said. Surveillance video shows the first responding officer pulling him out of an elevator, and Crudup could be seen lying face down on the ground with his hands raised. He is then handcuffed.
According to Rundle, the surveillance and bodycam footage shows Sgt. Perez and Officer Perez kicking Crudup. The video identifies Officer Perez as the officer who is seen slamming his head to the floor.
Khalid Vaughn, who is shown in the surveillance and body camera footage filming Crudup’s arrest, is first seen inching away from an oncoming officer and is then tackled and later punched by Officer Sabater, according to Rundle. He is later punched again by officers Rivas and Serrano, Rundle said.
The state attorney said charges have been dropped against Vaughn, but the case against Crudup for allegedly hitting the officer with his scooter is going forward at this time.
The five officers have been relieved of duty, pending an investigation into the case, according to Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements.
“When we saw that kick to the head. And then we, and then we replayed it and we see all the other kicks that preceded it, it was just unfathomable, it was unspeakable, it is just inexcusable.” Rundle said. “I’m not alone in that feeling. I watched the chief watch that video and his head just went right down on the desk. So we’re all really horrified by it.”
It is unclear if the officers have additional legal representation. CNN is trying to reach the officers. The Miami Beach Police Officers FOP Lodge 8, the union representing officers, has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Clements said the department will learn from this, move on and get better, yet this one incident isn’t a fair representation of what they stand for.
“I’m disappointed that this is out there and depicts our department in the manner that it does when they know that we are much better than that,” the chief said at the news conference.
“I tell you, I’ve seen some, some just tremendous accomplishments by this police department over the last 18 months, dealing with a variety of things that we’ve been given,” he said. “This is not indicative of who we are. It’s not indicative of the work that we’ve done.”
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