Miami Police Officer Mario Figueroa has been charged with assault, a second-degree misdemeanor, after he was caught on camera aiming a kick at the head of an arrestee.
“Officer Mario Figueroa can have no excuse for the alleged actions seen on the initial videotape,” Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a news release, according to the New York Times. “This community demands respect for all individuals taken into custody.”
The video, taken by a resident at the apartment where the arrest was taking place, shows the two-year veteran running to the arrestee and attempting to kick him in the head. After the video went viral, Figueroa was suspended with pay in the May 3 incident, and now his termination is being processed.
In police bodycam footage that’s been released, the arrestee, David Suazo, who was suspected of stealing a car, joked with the officer about his inability to connect his kick.
“You missed trying to kick me,” Suazo says. “Learn how to aim, my boy.”
“If I wanted to kick you,” Figueroa replies, “you know I would have kicked you, right?”
Of course, the local Fraternal Order of Police has issued a statement defending the officer’s actions.
“It is unfortunate that because of social media, Officer Figueroa has been found guilty by some in the public without the proper due process afforded to anyone accused,” Edward Lugo, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 20, said in a statement. “Because of political pressure, Officer Figueroa is being charged with a simple assault. There is no doubt that Officer Figueroa will be exonerated.”
Authorities say that had the officer’s kick connected, he would have faced more serious charges.