A former Miami Gardens police officer has been charged with four counts of official misconduct and two counts of battery stemming from a January incident where he knelt on a Black woman’s neck and stunned her twice with a Taser during an unlawful arrest.
As NBC News reports, Jordy Yanes Martel turned himself in on Thursday after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found he violated a number of protocols, including lying on a police report and using excessive force on Safiya Satchell.
Martel confronted the 33-year-old Satchell on January 14 outside of a Miami strip club. According to the Miami Herald, Satchell attempted to leave the club after being unsatisfied with the service there. The manager of the club approached Martel and another officer, Sgt. Arther King, and asked that Satchell be given a trespassing warning “to prevent her from coming back to the club,” writes the Herald. Both officers were working off-duty security for the establishment that night; Martel was still wearing his police uniform.
Satchell was in her SUV preparing to drive off when a security guard stood in front of her vehicle, blocking her from leaving. In the passenger seat was her friend, Raheam Staats-Fleming.
Video taken by Staats-Fleming shows Martel approaching Satchell on her driver’s side door and ordering her to walk to his patrol vehicle so he can issue her a trespassing warning. Satchell asked if she could drive to his car because she had already taken off her shoes. At that point, Martel tells her she can walk to the vehicle or he’ll get her out of the car.
After Satchell tells Martel, “pull me out of the car,” Martel reaches in through her driver’s side window and wrestles her out of her SUV. Once outside, he swept his leg behind her to get her on the ground, kneeling on her neck as she lay on her back. As if that weren’t enough, Martel then takes out his Taser and stuns her twice on her stomach, causing Satchel to scream out in pain.
As Staats-Fleming continues to record his friend getting brutalized—questioning the entire time why she was being attacked that way—a security guard tells him to delete his video.
Had it not been for the video, it’s unclear whether anything would have happened to Martel. He, along with another Miami Gardens officer, Javier Castano, were fired from the Miami Gardens Police Department earlier this month over an incident in March, in which they arrested and beat a Black man, Miguel McKay. As the Herald reports, Martel arrested Satchel on charges of battery on a cop and resisting with violence; those charges have been dropped.
“As a result of Martel’s actions, Ms. Satchel suffered abrasions to her stomach from the Tasers, bruises and abrasions on her arms and bruises on her legs,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle said Thursday afternoon when the charges against Martel were announced. “By filing these criminal charges today against former Miami Gardens officer Jordy Yanes Martel, we are saying that these actions are just plain wrong.”
Satchel’s attorney, Jonathan Jordan, connected Satchel’s case to other incidents of police brutality that, after months or years of inaction, are finally seeing some accountability and attention, thanks to nearly a month of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests.
“It is long overdue for civilian oversight of our cities’ police departments to ensure our officers are not just serving but protecting our community,” Jordan said. “If you’re an officer that has broken policy or acted under color of law with a belief that Black Lives don’t Matter, you ought to be looking over your shoulder because the chickens have finally come home to roost.”