A Miami police officer was charged Tuesday with second-degree misdemeanor assault days after video emerged appearing to show him kicking the head of a handcuffed suspect on the ground.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office charged Mario Figueroa on Thursday after an investigation, the office said in a news release.
Bystander footage of the incident sparked furor and cries of excessive force when the video involving car-theft suspect David Vladim Suazo went viral, leading to rebukes from city officials. Figueroa was suspended with pay later Thursday.
“Officer Mario Figueroa can have no excuse for the alleged actions seen on the initial videotape,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. “This community demands respect for all individuals taken into custody. Any evidence of abuse, which is also evidence of a crime, will assist us in going forward with this case.”
Rundle had previously said she was “shocked and appalled” by the video, which has amassed more than 250,000 views. A date of arraignment has yet to be set, the state attorney’s office said.
The video drew swift rebuke from top officials.
“I’m very happy the chief took swift, immediate action,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said of Figueroa’s immediate suspension.
But new police body-camera video released Tuesday complicates the allegations of actual assault, suggesting that Figueroa did not connect on his kick.
“Missed on the kick. Learn how to aim, my boy,” Suazo tells Figueroa while handcuffed to the ground at a hospital. He has complained of chest pains, the state attorney’s office said.
Figueroa replied: “If I wanted to kick you, you know, I would have kicked you right.”