An aide to Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell will not be prosecuted for attacking a man this fall after the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office dropped misdemeanor battery charges this week.
But video of the altercation leaves no doubt that Kimberly Bentley was the aggressor late Oct. 27 inside Brasserie Brickell Key, where she kicked and backhanded an employee and then clawed after him as two men held her back. The video also shows that Bentley was at the restaurant with Russell’s chief of staff, Eleazar Meléndez, though it’s not known if they were on city business.
According to police, Bentley — who stands 5-foot, 6-inches and 125 pounds — slapped and punched a bar employee after becoming loud and being told to leave. Police say the man she struck was left with a cut lip.
Video of the scuffle begins with Bentley and Meléndez walking along a bar at the back of the restaurant right around midnight. Bentley, wearing pants, a blouse and jacket, stops to hug a man. She then rounds a bend in the bar and almost immediately slaps a man lightly on the shoulder, and kicks him in the calf. She points her finger in his face and he pushes her arm away.
The victim in the case sent an affidavit to our office stating that he did not wish to participate in the prosecution of the case.
Ed Griffith, state attorney spokesman
Then she suddenly backhands him with her right hand and kicks him, at which point Meléndez, who was having a conversation with someone, rushes over and pushes her against a wall to try and restrain her. That goes on for about 30 seconds, with the unidentified man pacing back and forth just out of her reach. Then, Bentley lunges at him again near the door and is pushed backward and down into a picnic-style table.
When police arrived, they said Bentley, 35, was outside with two employees.
Bentley, a district director who was placed on leave after her arrest, is hardly a top-level official at the city, and commission staffers frequently come and go. But staffers also represent their commissioners, and her arrest — and the video of the incident — could be embarrassing to the city’s only freshman legislator, who represents Brickell.
Russell was out of the country Friday and unavailable. Reached by phone, Meléndez declined to say why he and Bentley, who are social acquaintances as well as colleagues, were at the restaurant that night. In a statement, he said that Russell “has withheld from further action on this matter in deference to the investigation by the state attorney’s office.”
The commissioner placed Ms. Bentley on administrative leave after the incident and has withheld from further action on this matter in deference to the investigation by the state attorney’s office.
Eleazar David Meléndez, Russell’s chief of staff
Ed Griffith, a state attorney spokesman, said prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday because the victim said he didn’t want to pursue the case.
“On Dec. 8, the victim in the case sent an affidavit to our office stating that he did not wish to participate in the prosecution of the case. Additionally, his civil attorney contacted the office to give us the same information,” Griffith said. “Because we do not have evidence to proceed without the victim, the case was” dropped.