Five Miami Beach police officers have been charged with battery after video appeared to show them violently assaulting two Black men last week.
The Miami-Dade County state attorney announced charges Monday against Sgt. Jose Perez and officers Kevin Perez, Robert Sabater, Steven Serrano and David Rivas, who were all previously suspended over the violent July 26 incident.
“Police officers face a variety of dangers on the job each and every day,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a press conference. “However, as I’ve previously said, excessive force can never, ever, ever, be an acceptable foundation for the policing of any community.”
Video shows an officer stopping Dalonta Crudup, 24, at gunpoint following a brief chase into a hotel. Crudup is seen putting both hands in the air and lying facedown on the floor, and then being swarmed by more than a dozen officers.
Police had pursued Crudup after they accused him of striking a bicycle patrol officer with a scooter he was driving. Rundle said the officer was left with leg injuries that required hospitalization and crutches.
Rundle said Sgt. Jose Perez kicked Crudup in the head three times and officer Kevin Perez kicked him four times. At one point, officers appear to lift Crudup from the ground and slam his head on the floor. Rundle believes, based on recorded audio evidence, that Crudup was already handcuffed during this violence.
Khalid Vaughn, identified as a bystander, was using his cellphone to record Crudup’s arrest in the hotel when, according to Rundle, video captured Sabater tackling Vaughn and repeatedly punching him in his ribcage. Serrano and Rivas also appeared to strike the 28-year-old man, Rundle said.
Police had accused Vaughn of not maintaining 20 feet of distance and impeding their investigation.
Crudup, in an earlier interview with Local 10 News, said he believed the officers were after him for riding a scooter with headphones on. He denied having hit an officer. Once he realized he was being chased, he said, he took off because he was scared.
“They trying to put a Black man in jail for no reason,” he said. “I ain’t do nothing wrong.”
Crudup had been charged with several counts, including aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, while Vaughn was charged with resisting an arrest with violence and impeding a police investigation.
Police Chief Richard Clements, after reviewing video footage of the incident, asked that charges against both men be dropped.
Rundle agreed to drop the charges against Crudup and Vaughn. In a Twitter post Monday, she thanked Clements for “swiftly recognizing the wrongs committed & bringing the matter to my attention.”