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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: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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