Videos featuring a Miami Beach cop staging a fake arrest with three nearly naked models in front of Miami Beach police headquarters went viral overnight in the social media world.
But officer William Beeker’s cameo in the racy clips is not playing well with top city leaders and the police department’s top brass.
In the videos, already viewed more than 1.6 million times by Monday night on on the three models’ Instagram accounts, Beeker marches the handcuffed women up headquarters steps and is then playfully thanked for not booking them after they had been handcuffed.
Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales issued a statement Tuesday calling the incident “disgusting.”
“These videos are highly offensive,” Morales said. “It is disgusting that a representative of the Miami Beach Police Department, and the City as a whole, would choose to participate in this distasteful video.”
Beeker, an 11-year veteran of the force, was placed on administrative duty Monday and suspended Tuesday by Police Chief Richard Clements as the department’s Internal Affairs unit investigates how the officer became involved in a Playboy model’s Instagram video.
“After further review of the circumstances surrounding these videos, I have relieved Officer William Beeker of duty pending the outcome of our internal investigation,” Chief Clements said.
It wasn’t clear if Beeker was on or off-duty when the video was recorded, or if the ATV he used during the shoot belonged to the police department. Police said that’s all part of the investigation. A call to the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents Miami Beach police officers, was not immediately returned Tuesday morning.
In the video, Beeker, whom the women call “Officer Bill” in the videos, was dressed in full uniform for his role.
An additional video posted to the Instagram story of Playboy model Francia James featured a speaking role for the officer.
“Thank you, Officer Bill, for letting us go,” the women — surrounding Beeker — said.
He responds: “No problem. Enjoy the community. I like to protect and serve.”
Beeker then speeds away on an off-road police vehicle. The videos were posted online Monday, and Beeker’s bosses found out soon after.
Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán issued a statement on Facebook Monday calling them “absolutely offensive.”
“I cannot believe an officer of our force would engage in something like this,” she wrote on Facebook. “With as many challenges as we face as a community, how dare he? It’s a mockery of all of our public servants who strive to protect and bring dignity to our city. I’m saddened and angry.”
The video brought unwanted attention to a police department that has spent a decade trying to clean up its image after a series of embarrassing high-profile controversies that gained worldwide attention.
One of those controversies also involved a cop riding an ATV without authorization. It was just before sunrise in June 2011 when Miami Beach police officer Derick Kuilan and a partner showed up at the Clevelander Hotel in South Beach. After mingling with a group of women celebrating an upcoming wedding, Kulian offered the bride-to-be a ride on the beach on his ATV.
A few blocks from the Clevelander and near the water, the ATV struck a couple who had just come out of the water. Both suffered broken legs and required several surgeries. Kulian’s blood-alcohol level was found to be above the legal limit and he was charged with two counts of driving under the influence, two counts of reckless driving and causing serious bodily harm.
At trial the women celebrating the bachelorette party said they they thought the officers were strippers sent to spice up the party.
Kulian was convicted of two counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury, lost his job and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and 18 months house arrest.
The ATV scandal came during a tumultuous time for Miami Beach police. Five weeks before Kulian struck the beachgoers during Memorial Day Weekend, several officers from several departments fired more than 100 rounds into a slow-moving vehicle on Collins Avenue that police deemed a threat. Its driver Raymond Herisse did not survive.
For the past few years and with the exception of a series of brawls captured on cellphone video during this past Memorial Day Weekend, Miami Beach has managed to avoid controversy.
Clements was inducted as the city’s new police chief on July 1.