A police officer is being investigated after cellphone video surfaced of him striking a man in the face with two hard slaps after the man was taken into custody.
The confrontation, which took place Wednesday afternoon outside a home in South Miami-Dade County, occurred after police spotted a woman hanging out of a car driven by Jacksonville Gaston, 26, police said. According to police, after pulling over, Gaston refused orders to take his hands out of his pockets. Then he spit at police officers, wrestled with them to the ground and tensed up after he was taken into custody.
The cellphone video, obtained by Miami Herald news partner CBS4 from a resident who lives near where the arrest took place, begins with several police officers struggling to get Gaston to a police car. He then apparently disobeys orders to get in the vehicle and tenses up. While Gaston is In handcuffs and with his back to the patrol car, an officer strikes Gaston twice, hard, with an open hand on the left side of his face.
Gaston’s arrest report says he spit on the officer before he was struck. Gaston was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer and a firefighter, fleeing and eluding police, resisting arrest with violence and reckless driving. By Friday, Gaston had been released from jail.
The Miami-Dade police officer who struck Gaston has not been named by police. He has not been reassigned as police investigate the incident.
Miami-Dade police director Juan Perez released a statement saying the incident is being reviewed.
“The incident, in its entirety, is currently under internal investigation to ensure that the officers’ actions were in accordance with established policies and procedures...” Perez said.
According to Gaston’s arrest report, police first spotted him driving at Southwest 144th Street and 158th Place as a woman only identified as Ms. Vasquez was partially hanging out of the passenger side with the door open. When police tried to pull over the vehicle, Gaston continued to drive. He finally came to a stop at a block later and started to walk away from the scene.
Then, according to police, Gaston ignored orders to stop walking and when officers grabbed him they struggled to get him into custody, at one point falling to the ground with Gaston. Police said Gaston then punched, spit and kicked at them. The cellphone video picks up with several officers struggling to get him to the police car. There, he is struck.
The woman who was with Gaston said he was her friend and he was helping her look for her car keys. Police said once they finally got Gaston into the patrol car, he kicked hard enough at a door to cause damage.