Florida officer fired after bodycam shows him hitting woman

Florida officer fired after bodycam shows him hitting woman

MIAMI — A Florida police officer is losing his job after he struck a woman who was yelling at him inside a terminal at Miami International Airport.

A bodycam video, posted on Twitter by South Florida filmmaker Billy Corben, shows the face mask-wearing Miami-Dade police officer speaking to the woman inside the terminal on Wednesday.

The African American woman, who was not wearing a face mask, becomes irate, saying, “You acting like you white when you really Black. … What you want to do?” She approaches the officer, and puts her face right next to his, the video shows. The officer then punches her in the face.

A police report states that the woman struck the officer on the chin with her face before he hit her.

“She headbutted me,” the officer says on the video as his colleagues rush in to handcuff the woman.

The report did not identify either the woman or the officer.

Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez said Thursday that he had decided to fire the officer after reviewing the results of an investigation into his conduct. Ramirez said he has asked Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to investigate the use of force.

“The MDPD holds itself accountable for its actions, and this is just another example of our commitment to do just that,” Ramirez said.

The Miami Herald reported that the woman was loudly complaining about a missed or delayed flight and a ticket agent called police. The officer arrived and began talking to the woman but the confrontation escalated when she began shouting at him, the newspaper report said.

Steadman Stahl, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the officer hit the woman with an “open-hand slap,” which is also called called a “diversionary strike.”

“Clearly she was the aggressor,” Stahl said. “She was being asked to leave. She’s being belligerent and she pushes her face right into his face.”

Protests against police brutality involving Black people roiled the nation for weeks following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. A white Minneapolis officer was later charged with murder after pressing a knee into Floyd’s neck during an arrest.

In Florida, body camera footage released this week shows police officers laughing and celebrating after shooting protesters with rubber bullets during a May protest against police brutality in Fort Lauderdale.

The Fort Lauderdale police department posted the video, taken from the body camera of Detective Zachary Baro, on its official YouTube channel Wednesday. Baro was leading the department’s SWAT team unit on May 31.

At one point in the video, Baro can be heard saying, “Beat it” and using a profanity after officers shot other projectiles that are less potentially lethal than rubber bullets.

Also in Fort Lauderdale, Officer Steven Pohorence was charged with battery Tuesday for shoving a kneeling woman to the ground during a protest.

Last week, ex-Miami Gardens police officer Jordy Martel was charged with battery after putting his knee on the neck of a woman and shooting her twice with a stun gun during a confrontation in January.

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This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Billy Corben’s last name.

Associated Press, The Associated Press

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