Miami police officer charged with assault denies kicking suspect

Florida prosecutors have charged a Miami police officer they say tried to kick a suspect who was being handcuffed on ...

Posted: May 9, 2018 9:43 AM
Updated: May 9, 2018 9:43 AM

Florida prosecutors have charged a Miami police officer they say tried to kick a suspect who was being handcuffed on the ground, in an encounter captured on video.

Mario Figueroa, a two-year veteran of the force, was charged Tuesday with assault, a second-degree misdemeanor, after the cell phone video of the incident surfaced last week.

"Officer Mario Figueroa can have no excuse for the alleged actions seen on the initial videotape," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a new release. "This community demands respect for all individuals taken into custody."

Police said they were beginning the process of firing the officer.

In a statement, the local Fraternal Order of Police said Figueroa will be exonerated because he never kicked the suspect, but rather was trying to get the man to comply with police commands.

"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," the statement said.

"While some have characterized this as police brutality, it couldn't be farther from the truth," the FOP said. "The only thing brutal about this entire incident is the suspect that endangered the lives of the community in which our Miami Police Officers risked their lives to take this dangerous man off the streets."

According to a police report, Miami police had chased the alleged car theft suspect, David Suazo, 31, last Thursday after spotting him driving a blue Jeep Cherokee that a record check showed to be stolen.

Police said they tried to pull the suspect over but he sped away and drove into a residential complex, where he crashed the car and ran away as officer chased him.

Officers said they gave verbal commands but the man cursed at them and took a "fighting stance," according to the police report.

Figueroa deployed a Taser, which was ineffective, according to the report. The man continued to flee.

A witness who shot the cell phone video said she saw the man running around, trying to escape. But he couldn't get away because there was a gate, so he surrendered to police, who told him to lay down, she said.

The witness' cell phone video showed the man -- later identified as Suazo -- lying in a yard with his hands on his head. The first police officer approached him and started to put handcuffs on the suspect. Suazo was not resisting and was lying on his stomach and his hands were being restrained, the police report said.

Figueroa is "pictured as running into the camera's view and taking a large kick at the head of Suazo who was already face down on the ground and motionless," according to prosecutors.

In body camera footage taken while Suazo was in the hospital awaiting treatment after complaining of chest pains, Suazo berates Figueroa for unsuccessfully trying to kick him in the head, prosecutors said. The origin of that video was not immediately clear.

"Missed trying to kick. Learn how to aim, my boy," Suazo said in that video, which prosecutors provided to the media.

"If I wanted to kick you, you know, I would have kicked you right," Figueroa responded, prosecutors said.

Later, Figueroa said: "I didn't kick you. I didn't want to kick you ... I needed you to comply so me pretending to kick you got you to comply, right?"

Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the state attorney's office, told CNN the officer would have faced another charge if there were evidence of contact.

Suazo was charged with several offenses, including grand theft auto, fleeing/eluding a police officer and driving with a suspended license, authorities said last week.

Figueroa had been relieved of duty. CNN was unable to contact him Tuesday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
Lowndes6032140
Lamar589680
Lafayette5740113
Washington5220130
Bolivar4616124
Oktibbeha441593
Panola431995
Pearl River4178131
Warren4134115
Pontotoc410571
Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
Lincoln3552104
Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
Sunflower318986
Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
Tippah279265
Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 73°
Columbus
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 70°
Oxford
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather