You really can’t blame Black people for believing that excessive force is just the police go-to for dealing with Black people when they get into heated exchanges with them. If our lived experiences weren’t enough to convince us of this, the fact that we can’t seem to go more than a week without seeing a new viral police brutality video where the victim is Black certainly does the job. This time it’s a Florida police officer who has been “relieved of duty” after being caught on camera hitting a Black woman in the face and tackling her to the ground in a Miami airport Wednesday.
Video footage posted to Instagram and Twitter by Miami filmmaker Billy Corben shows a Black woman and a Black officer in the midst of a heated exchange where the woman can be seen getting in the officer’s face and saying, “You acting like you white when you really Black. What you gonna do?” The officer responds by striking her in the face, tackling her to the ground and handcuffing her while he tells other officers, “she headbutted me”—which the video shows is a motherfucking lie.
As you can clearly see in the video, there was no headbutt. The woman’s head gets very close to the officer’s face, but we all know what a headbutt looks like and this ain’t it. What you can see clearly is a cop—who has been identified as Antonio Clemente Rodriguez, according to the Miami Herald—punching a Black woman in the face and then lying to his fellow officers about why he did it.
Of course, the clarity of that footage doesn’t stop the “blue wall” from doing its work.
According to the Herald, the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President Steadman Stahl calls what the officer did to the woman, not a punch, but an “open-hand slap” or what is sometimes called a “diversionary strike.”
“Clearly she was the aggressor,” Stahl told the Herald. “She was being asked to leave. She’s being belligerent and she pushes her face right into his face.”
Notice, he says the woman “pushes her face right into his face” which is clearly not how headbutts work. But sure, she’s the “aggressor” and not the cop who punched (or open-hand slapped or whatever) the woman in the face.
Fortunately, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez watched the video through his eyes and not through his “back the blue” mentality and is taking swift action against Rodriguez.
“I am shocked and angered by a body cam video that I just saw involving one of our officers,” Ramirez tweeted Wednesday. “I’ve immediately initiated an investigation and ordered that the involved officers be relieved of duty. Actions such as these undermine the hard work that we have invested in our community and causes my heart to break for our community and for the vast majority of our officers who dedicate their lives to serving our County. This will not stand, and I assure our community that any officer acting in this vain will be held to account.”
Ramirez added that he contacted Florida’s State Attorney and “asked that her office immediately become involved in the investigation.”
The Black woman has not been identified. According to the Herald, witnesses say she had been complaining loudly about a missed or delayed flight which prompted a ticket agent to call the police.
As far as her telling him he’s “acting like you white”...
Well, to be fair, physically attacking Black people and then lying to police officers about what happened is definitely some white people shit.