Miami-Dade Police Officer Alejandro Giraldo caused community outrage when, as video cameras rolled, he angrily tackled, then arrested a woman who had called police to report she’d been threatened by a neighbor with a shotgun.
But Giraldo’s most serious crime, prosecutors said, was that he lied when he wrote an arrest report claiming the woman was disobeying commands and causing a scene.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office on Friday announced that it had filed a third-degree felony official misconduct charge against Giraldo, who had already been relieved of duty for the March incident. For the rough take-down, Giraldo was also charged with misdemeanor battery during the arrest of Dyma Loving.
“We believe that there is sufficient evidence to charge a violation of Florida’s criminal statutes,” the office said in a statement.
Giraldo’s defense attorney, Andre Rouviere, said he’s concerned prosecutors might have been pressured by activists into filing charges.
“I’m a little concerned of the nature and the way the case was brought about,” Rouviere said.
The arrest of Giraldo was the latest in a string of criminal cases brought against officers depicted in videos using forceful tactics against primarily African Americans. The cases have come against the backdrop of an ongoing national debate over police use of force and friction between law enforcement and communities of color.
But so far, the State Attorney’s Office hasn’t secured any convictions. Another cop, Miami Officer Mario Figueroa, was accused of kicking at a handcuffed suspect — but a judge last month acquitted him at trial.
In Broward County, two deputies have been relieved of duty after they were accused of using excessive force in arresting a teenager during a widely publicized scrum outside a McDonald’s near Taravella High.
The Giraldo case was another hot-button confrontation that touched a nerve among Miami’s African-American community and activists who have ripped law-enforcement tactics.
Loving’s attorneys announced a lawsuit against Giraldo and Miami-Dade County in an emotional press conference last month. Spurred by the video, members of several activist groups, including The Color of Change and UltraViolet, marched into the state attorney’s office on Apr. 23 to hand over two petitions and more than 50,000 signatures demanding Giraldo’s arrest.
“While we do celebrate this as a victory, we are mindful that this fight for accountability should never have been needed in the first place,” Clarise McCants, the Color of Change’s Criminal Justice Campaign Director, said in a statement. “Ms. Loving is one of countless Black women who are subject to unacceptable police harassment and violence on a regular basis.”
Loving’s attorney, Justin Moore, called the charges against Giraldo “a start.” He said he believes other cops involved in the episode should also face criminal charges.
“The fact is that other officers involved in Dyma’s arrest assisted Officer Giraldo and drafted police reports detailing the incident. It is more than reasonable that they meet the same scrutiny that officer Giraldo has received,” Moore said.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said in a statement that the arrest of Giraldo was “disappointing and overshadows the hard work of the dedicated men and women of law enforcement who strive daily to serve and protect our community.”
The dust-up between Giraldo and Loving unfolded on March 5 in the neighborhood of South Miami Heights. That morning, Loving was walking with her friend, Adrianna Green, past the home of a 50-year-old white man named Frank Tumm.
Tumm long had friction with the Green family. According to police, Tumm yelled out racial slurs and called Green a “hooker” and other names.
Then, Tumm pulled out a shotgun and pointed it at the women, according to police.
The two women called 911. The first two officers who arrived told investigators that the women were upset but calm as they recounted what happened. Officer Cassandra Bissett said Loving “did not make any verbal threats to her,” according to an arrest warrant.
But it was when Giraldo arrived that the tension escalated, Miami-Dade Sgt. Waldo Thomas Lorente wrote in the warrant.
In the span of six minutes, body-camera videos showed, Giraldo began peppering the women with questions, then grew agitated as the women became emotional while recounting the incident.
“We’re not trying to scream at you. We’re just trying to explain,” Green said.
At one point, Loving asked if she could go call her sick daughter.
“You need to chill out! You need to chill out,” Giraldo said.
“Excuse me,” Loving cried.
“You’re being disorderly rightly now,” Giraldo yelled back.
The back and forth went on, with Loving becoming more emotional, crying out that she “just had a gun pointed in my face.”
“Do not touch me!” Loving cried.
Body-cam and cellphone footage showed that Giraldo pushed Loving into a fence, then corralled her to the ground while officers handcuffed her.
Tumm was not initially arrested for the shotgun threat. Instead, Loving was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.
After video surfaced of the arrest, prosecutors dropped the charges against Loving, and filed charges against Tumm, the neighbor who allegedly pointed the shotgun at her.
In filing charges against Giraldo, investigators said he lied when he wrote in his report that Loving “would not obey my commands.” Body-cam videos showed his “commands” were just to “calm down” and “chill out.”
Loving is seen on camera complying with these ‘commands,’ according to the warrant by Lorente and prosecutor Kerrie Crockett.
The warrant also said Loving was never seen being “uncooperative” and “causing a scene in a residential neighborhood.”
“There is no evidence that Loving’s ‘screaming’ at Giraldo caused anyone to leave their house to witness” the incident, the warrant said.