Miami Beach police say an officer caught on video Saturday slamming a woman to the ground while surrounded by an angry and allegedly violent “mob” did nothing wrong.
Late Monday night, The Miami Herald posted YouTube videos online showing Lt. Douglas Simon arresting a woman who police say was kicked out of a Funkshion Fashion Week concert on the beach for “unruly behavior.”As a crowd circled around Simon near the shoreline, police say Sara Greenback struggled with the officer while an unidentified man wrestled with a concert security guard. Simon — who police say was attacked by a man in the crowd during the confrontation — then threw Greenback to the ground.On Tuesday, Detective Juan Sanchez, a police spokesman, issued a one-page statement saying the department reviewed the videos and found Simon acted appropriately:“The Department has concluded that the officer acted appropriately while affecting the arrests and dealing with the volatile situation at hand.”According to a police report and videos, the police confrontation with what has been described as an “angry mob” began around sundown in the area of Ninth Street and the ocean.Police say an event security guard stopped Simon and pointed out Greenback, who allegedly was kicked out of a Swedish House Mafia concert and ran when Simon tried to stop her. Simon, atop an ATV, caught up with her and stopped her. But as he detained the 25-year-old Maryland woman, crowds suddenly surrounded Simon, who requested backup.As Simon arrested Greenback, police say Abelardo Antonio Soto began throwing sand at Simon, and inciting the crowd.An arrest report says Soto, of North Miami, “was able to turn the crowd hostile towards officers, as numerous people began fighting with officers.”The report says that Simon approached Soto, who struck the officer with a weapon. Simon suffered a deep cut on his forehead and received stitches at Mount Sinai Medical Center, according to reports.The videos, however, do not show if or when Simon was struck.They do show Simon grab a man in a white shirt and Yankees hat and say “Now you and me go” before throwing him to the ground and handcuffing him.Soto, 29, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer, resisting an officer with violence, and affray.Greenback was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.Sanchez further defended Simon on Tuesday.“When assessing the officer’s response to this situation, it’s imperative to consider the totality of the circumstances,” he wrote. “In doing so, there was a large crowd becoming increasingly hostile closing in on one officer, a civilian rendering aid to the officer, two subjects actively resisting arrest, and another inciting the crowd.”The confrontation with police and the crowd came around the same time that fire marshals decided to shut down the concert, saying event promoters had sold thousands of tickets beyond the show’s 8,600 person capacity.Adonis Garcia, a fire department spokesman, said problems began when he realized that crowds at the event were at capacity but almost 2,000 ticket holders remained outside.Garcia said he told the event’s promoters to stop accepting tickets.When the crowd — standing outside for hours in the South Florida heat — realized they wouldn’t be allowed in, they started pushing down barricades, he said.“When we closed the door, the mob rushed,” he said.Garcia said a small group of police officers “bravely” held back the crowds for about 45 minutes, until he decided that it would be safer to allow the remaining ticket holders inside.“I thought it was a life-saving decision at the moment,” he said.The confrontation with crowds outside the concert marked the peak of a hectic weekend for Miami Beach’s public safety officers, who dealt with throngs of visitors in town for Ultra Music Festival, the fashion show and a convergence of events.Sgt. Alejandro Bello, head of the city’s police union, said crowds became so intense that the department called in a midnight shift hours early Saturday to increase staffing in the city.“I was getting calls from my members, saying ‘It’s basically crazy out here. We’re trying to do the best as possible but we need more people,’ ” Bello said.