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A Miami Police officer who was filmed kicking a suspect in the head last week has been charged with assault, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday.
Officer Mario Figueroa is facing a misdemeanor assault charge in the May 3 incident in which suspect David Suazo was kicked. Figueroa has already been suspended with pay and officials said they are beginning the termination process for the officer.
“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.”
The footage was captured inside the Culmer Apartment complex in the Overtown neighborhood and posted on social media. It shows the officer, identified as Mario Figueroa, running toward Suazo, who is handcuffed on the ground and appears to not be resisting arrest.
The officer kicks the man in the head before jumping on top as several other officers arrive to the scene.
An arrest report said Suazo had been spotted by officers driving a stolen Jeep Cherokee and when the officers tried to stop him, Suazo sped away, driving into the complex at a high rate of speed before reaching a dead end, where he lost control and hit a concrete wall.
Suazo ran off and there was a brief foot chase until Suazo reached a fenced-in field near Northwest 6th Avenue and 8th Street, the report said.
The report said Suazo took a “fighting stance,” then tried to run away as officers told him to get on the ground. One of the officers used a Taser but it didn’t stop Suazo, who continued to run before he was taken into custody, the report said.
Suazo, 31 was charged with grand theft of a vehicle, fleeing or eluding a police officer, reckless driving and driving with a suspended license.