Miami Beach police detective Philippe Archer has been suspended for a month’s pay after a video showed him punching and kicking a handcuffed model while she was in custody two years ago.
An internal affairs investigation found that Archer, a 19-year veteran of the department, violated the department’s rules on use of force and securing prisoners in custody, according to the internal affairs report. He will serve his suspension without pay on different days spread out through May, June and the beginning of July.
Surveillance footage taken from the parking garage behind Beach police headquarters on June 26, 2013, shows Archer punching the woman, Megan Adamescu, after she walked up to him, with her hands cuffed behind her back, and kicked him in the leg.
Archer then tried to kick her in the head as another officer pulled her away.
The incident that led to Adamescu’s arrest made headlines in August 2013 and spurred the internal investigation and an FBI probe.
In the early evening of June 26, 2013, Archer responded to a call of a disturbance in South Beach while on plain clothes duty. A condo concierge called authorities because Adamescu was drunk in the lobby of the South Bay Club and refused to leave.
Archer escorted Adamescu outside, where he noted in the arrest report that she was too drunk to give him her identification. Archer took her purse to get her ID himself, which agitated Adamescu.
Archer, who is black, reported that Adamescu started using racial slurs at the detective.
A passerby, Andrew Mossberg, saw this and thought he was witnessing a mugging. He decided to intervene. According to the police investigation, Mossberg called the police and stepped in even after Archer identified himself. Adamescu then hit a distracted Archer, who struck her and Mossberg in the ensuing struggle.
The image of Mossberg’s bandaged head was circulated in the media after the tussle as he claimed he was just trying to be a Good Samaritan. But Archer’s suspension is not connected to the altercation with Mossberg.
The blow to Adamescu’s head, captured on video, led to the punishment. Archer did not report this use of force, and with Mossberg also in custody, the detective had a fellow officer take a photo of him and a bandaged Mossberg as Archer smiles.
The conclusion of the police department’s investigation chastises Archer.
“Your experience, knowledge of rules, policies and proper practice dictates that you knew you should have reported and documented the events at the police station, you knew that taking a photo with a prisoner was inappropriate, you knew you should have properly secured the prisoners, and you knew you used excessive force,” states the report. “Your lack of judgment and your poor decisions defy your tenure as a Miami Beach Police Officer of 19 years.”
The report continues: “You met this slight woman’s meager schoolyard kick with excessive, unnecessary, and unwarranted use of force.”
In a statement given Monday, Police Chief Dan Oates said leadership has changed in the force and the department is moving on.
“My disciplinary action speaks for itself,” he said. “This event occurred nearly two years ago, before much of the current city and Police Department leadership was in place. Everyone, including the officer involved, has learned from this event. We are moving forward.”
The FBI also investigated the incident but chose not to prosecute, as stated in a memo from the Department of Justice to Beach police.
“We received a complaint that Philippe Archer of your agency may have been involved in violating the civil rights of Andrew Mossberg and Megan Adamescu,” wrote Robert J. Moossy, Jr., criminal section chief of the civil rights division of the DOJ. “We recently completed our review of the results of the investigation of that complaint to determine whether a federal criminal prosecution was warranted. After careful consideration, we concluded that the evidence does not establish a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes.”
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle also decided not to charge Archer.
Ed Griffith, spokesman for the state attorney, said battery could not be proven from the video.
“The battery that was the focal point of the possible criminal charge could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt given that the victim initiated it,” he said.
A closeout memo states that based on the video, “it is not possible to prove a criminal intent on the part of the subject.”
Ray Taseff, attorney for Andrew Mossberg, told the Miami Herald his client wanted a different outcome.
“Our position is that we believe that officer Archer should have been fired,” he said. “We believe that Mr. Mossberg did the right thing, made the call to report what he believed to be misconduct, and as a result, he was retaliated against.”