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: 312712

Reported Deaths: 7223
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21445257
Hinds20264414
Harrison17785308
Rankin13548278
Jackson13401246
Madison10055217
Lee9959173
Jones8361163
Forrest7638152
Lauderdale7191240
Lowndes6361144
Lamar620686
Lafayette6164118
Washington5318133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460698
Panola4550105
Pearl River4493145
Marshall4393103
Warren4371121
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408876
Neshoba4022176
Lincoln3944110
Hancock376886
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335590
Tate332084
Pike3290105
Scott314973
Alcorn311268
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299277
Copiah296065
Coahoma293979
Simpson293888
Tippah287468
Prentiss278960
Marion268780
Leake265573
Wayne262241
Adams261882
Grenada260085
Covington256281
George246748
Newton246161
Winston226881
Tishomingo225467
Jasper220748
Attala214173
Chickasaw206957
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181833
Clarke177879
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169732
Yalobusha162936
Smith162134
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125838
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102230
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95328
Franklin83423
Quitman79916
Choctaw76018
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 529446

Reported Deaths: 10930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763031516
Mobile40850804
Madison34622501
Tuscaloosa25701451
Montgomery24289585
Shelby23367247
Baldwin21035307
Lee15822169
Calhoun14469313
Morgan14266279
Etowah13806352
Marshall12185222
Houston10533280
Elmore10029205
Limestone9948150
Cullman9640193
St. Clair9589239
Lauderdale9407239
DeKalb8814185
Talladega8199175
Walker7214277
Autauga6914108
Jackson6801111
Blount6635136
Colbert6288134
Coffee5498117
Dale4820111
Russell438438
Chilton4258111
Franklin424782
Covington4111117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia393076
Chambers3555123
Dallas3543151
Clarke350661
Marion3105100
Pike310177
Lawrence299798
Winston273672
Bibb260463
Marengo249064
Geneva247676
Pickens233659
Barbour230756
Hale222276
Butler215869
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184145
Randolph179241
Monroe177040
Washington167039
Macon158850
Clay155156
Crenshaw151957
Cleburne148341
Lamar141534
Lowndes138553
Wilcox126729
Bullock122941
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa106928
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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