A 47-second video that shows a Miami police officer placing a handcuffed teen in the back of a patrol car, then jumping on top of him as the woman filming the scene has her camera knocked away, has landed the officer in hot water and prompted an internal affairs investigation.
Late Thursday night Miami police hadn’t named the officer. They hadn’t named the man in handcuffs or described the charges against him. And it was unclear who the woman was who took the video, who swatted the camera away from her, or why the officer jumped into the back of the patrol car on top of the man.
What was clear: The video was going viral, having received almost 80,000 views by 11 p.m. Thursday. And the actions of the officer were being investigated late into the evening.
“We have seen the video and we have launched a full Internal Affairs investigation into the matter,” said Miami Police Maj. Delrish Moss. “We take that responsibility very seriously. The officer involved in the incident will be relieved of duty as we investigate.”
The incident, which took place at about 5 p.m. inside the Liberty Square housing project, also caught the attention of police union president Javier Ortiz, who posted it on his Facebook page and released a statement.
“While the video may seem concerning to some, the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] is confident that when everything is analyzed within the totality of the circumstances, it will be concluded that the police officer was doing what he is supposed to be doing: Protecting our community,” said Ortiz.
The release of the video comes at a particularly sensitive time for law enforcement. Video captured encounters between police and residents in New York, Cleveland, South Carolina and Baltimore over the past 13 months sparked major protests.
In at least three of those instances, a black man or child died during an altercation with a white police officer. In Miami Thursday, an unidentified black officer jumped into the patrol car with a black teen.
The Liberty Square video, which was originally posted on the Facebook page of a woman who says her name is Marilyn Smith, begins with officers standing around a dark car, then a black police officer escorts a young black man in tan long shorts and dark T-shirt into the back of a patrol car. At the 37-second mark, the officer appears to leap on top of the man through the back passenger door.
The officer can be clearly seen lying on the back seat, while the man in handcuffs is out of view. Then, as someone appears to swat away the woman’s phone camera, the picture goes fuzzy and she can be heard saying, “Don’t touch my phone baby, move.” Then the video ends.
Moss said the officer’s gun and badge will be taken away during the investigation, and he will be taken off the street.
“Internal Affairs is still working and taking statements,” Moss said late Thursday night.