Handcuffed in the back seat of a Miami Beach police cruiser, Miami cop Christopher Vital banged his head against the partition and threatened the officer, kicked out a window, then said he was going to kill himself, police said.
Vital, 29, was arrested Thursday on drug possession and driving infraction charges after speeding past an accident scene on the MacArthur Causeway.
The arrest, though, was just the latest in a laundry list of problems that have plagued the officer the past decade.
Twice before, Miami-Dade County records show, Vital lost his license over driving infractions. Last November, at halftime of the Miami Dolphins’ victory over the San Diego Chargers, Vital got into a fight in the stands and was arrested for disorderly intoxication.
He spent the next six months relieved of duty with pay.
Three months ago, on June 4, his license was again suspended, this time for failing to pay his car insurance — an incident his superiors at the Miami Police Department overlooked.
Since July, Vital has been patrolling the city’s Upper East Side in his police car without a valid license.
“We do annual checks. It would seem his license just missed the last inspection. Internal Affairs does random checks also,” said Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss.
Moss said officers are required to notify their supervisors if they are arrested or lose their driver’s licenses.
Vital’s most recent troubles began at 4:45 a.m. Thursday, when a Miami Beach officer got a bit perturbed as a blue BMW sped past an accident on the MacArthur Causeway. The officer gave chase.
A mile later, the officer stopped the BMW afer he said it reached a speed of 100 miles per hour and found a bloodshot, slurring and sweating Vital behind the wheel, according to the arrest affidavit. In the seat beside Vital was 25-year-old Stefanie Leigh Malvin.
Also in the car, the report says: suspected marijuana and cocaine. Beach police said they did a field test on a substance found inside an electronic cigarette case, which they determined to be heroin.
More trouble followed once Vital was placed in the patrol car. According to the officer who took the Miami officer to the Beach police station, Vital began banging his head on the partition of the car, and said he would blame his injuries on the driver.
Before being escorted from the patrol car, Vital told the officer, “I’m going to hunt you down, you and your family, and I’m gonna have your job,” according to the arrest form. Then the report says Vital said he was going to kill himself.
Vital was arrested and charged with drug possession, driving with a suspended license, driving under the influence and criminal mischief. Malvin was charged with possession of cocaine. Both remained in jail late Thursday. Vital’s bond was set at $14,000, Malvin’s at $10,000.
Neither had an attorney by Thursday afternoon, and Miami police Sgt. Javier Ortiz, president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, issued a brief statement.
“Please pray for him,” Ortiz said.
Moss said Vital has been suspended without pay pending his termination. He also warned that the Miami Police Department has the right to take action based on its own findings, even if Vital is found not guilty in a court of law.
“As a member of law enforcement, Mr. Vital is held to a high standard and he is now the subject of an internal administrative investigation,” Moss said.
The officer’s Internal Affairs file is clean, with a lone exception: the evening of Nov. 17, when Vital sat in Section 107 at Sun Life Stadium watching the Dolphins-Chargers game.
A fight broke out and officers were called to respond over their radios.
When they got there, the arrest affidavit shows, Vital was involved in a dispute with another man, and “lunged” at him, hitting the man in his face with his chin. Vital ignored verbal police commands, the arrest report says, and yelled at officers trying to calm him down.
When five or six officers tried to remove Vital, he fought back, injuring one of their knees, according to the report.
He “continued to struggle with arresting officers even after being placed into handcuffs,” the report says.
Vital was arrested and charged with disorderly intoxication. Between the November incident and June 22, his personnel files show he was relieved of duty with pay. When he returned, he served a 100-hour suspension without pay, then began patroling the Upper East Side again.
Records also show Vital lost his license in 2004 and 2005. He has been with Miami police since 2008.