The video is just under two minutes in length. It shows a woman refusing a police order to move her car as she waits for her 6-year-old daughter to get out of school. A struggle ensues. The woman is pulled out of her car, handcuffed and placed in a police vehicle.
For failing to obey a police officer’s order to hand over her driver’s license, Rita Guzman, 25, spent Wednesday night in jail, charged with resisting arrest without violence.
“He said he’d Taser her if she didn’t get out. She never refused. She said, ‘why do you want it?’ He said you’re under arrest,” said Guzman’s attorney, Lonnie Richardson.
Miami-Dade police, though, tell a slightly different tale of the confrontation outside Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School in Cutler Bay.
According to Guzman’s arrest affidavit, when the officer told Guzman to move her car, she responded: “Why are you being so nasty?” There’s no mention of a Taser in the police report.
The officer, whose name is listed only as C. Brown on the report, said when Guzman refused to move her car, he demanded her driver’s license and registration. When she repeatedly refused, he told her she was under arrest.
“The defendant began to rotate her body away from my attempts to handcuff her. I issued several loud verbal commands to place her right hand behind her back. I was finally able to handcuff the defendant,” Brown wrote in the report.
The confrontation took place just before 2 p.m. Wednesday at the school, 21545 SW 87th Ave., while Guzman was waiting for her daughter to get out of her first grade class. Signs on the field clearly state cars can’t park in the grassy area at the school where Guzman and others waited for their kids. She says cars park there because of a lack of space near the school’s entrance.
The one minute and 57 second video appears to be taken from the cell phone of another parent waiting for a child a few feet away from Guzman’s car. The video, taken through the photographer’s passenger window, shows the back of the officer as he speaks with Guzman, then spends 15 seconds trying to yank her out of the car.
What they say isn’t audible.
But this is visible: A struggle, with the officer pushing Guzman into the inside of the driver’s side door and handcuffing her behind her back. A few seconds later, a golf cart and a police car show up and Guzman is placed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle.
“The officer asked for her driver’s license and she refused,” said Detective Marjorie Eloi.
Richardson said Guzman is a single mom who used to work in his office but now attends nursing school.
Eloi said she couldn’t go into the details of the case because it’s now an open Internal Affairs investigation. Guzman and Richardson filed a complaint at police headquarters Friday afternoon, accompanied by a media horde.
Friday, while filing the complaint with Internal Affairs, Guzman showed off her bruised arms. Richardson said his client intends to file a civil rights lawsuit next week claiming emotional and physical damage.