Miami-Dade jury verdict condemns extra police force. Hope the decision stands

Miami-Dade jury verdict condemns extra police force. Hope the decision stands

Complaints of resident mistreatment at the hands of local police officers have rarely led to criminal charges, much less jury trials. Last week, the tide turned slightly, and encouragingly.

A Miami Beach police officer was convicted of simple battery by a jury in a 2021 trial for using excessive force as part of a group that arrested a suspect in a hotel lobby. Officer Kevin Perez will be arraigned on misdemeanor charges that could land him behind bars or put him on probation for up to a year.

Three other officers awaiting trial were involved in the kicking and punching of the handcuffed suspect, Dalonta Crudup, 26, of Maryland, as he fell face down on the hotel lobby floor; An officer has resigned. Thanks mainly to a safety video, justice was served.

As a city with a long history of troubled relations with black suspects, Miami Beach wants the city to quickly make Crudup’s beating public and the police department to take action against its own officers.

“In this case, our department suspended the officer involved without pay and referred the case to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office within hours of the incident,” Mayor Dan Gelber told the editorial board. It is commendable.

In other words, the department blew the whistle on its own officials. That should be it. But this incident should never have escalated to the beating of a handcuffed suspect at the Royal Palm Hotel, as the video also shows. Readers may remember this case, which made international headlines.

Crudup, riding a scooter, hit a police cruiser in traffic, then took off, a misdeed by any measure.

He was chased by cruisers and then walked into the hotel by about two dozen officers, who caught him as he tried to get into the elevator.

Crudup’s handcuffing and arrest turned into a beating in full view of the hotel’s security cameras. Officers also beat a tourist who videotaped the take-down with his cell phone.

Jurors watched the hard-to-watch video and took less than two hours to convict Perez of participating.

The incident came a year after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, one of whom, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of taking Floyd’s life and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

In Beach’s case, we’ve all seen angry officers take it out on suspects — and it was persuasive. But there may be a wrinkle.

Midway through, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alberto Milian had already taken the unusual step of reducing Perez’s charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, taking a five-year sentence off the table. Eyebrows furrowed at this move.

In his explanation to jurors, the judge said the state failed to prove Crudup’s serious bodily injury, a requirement for a felony charge. Millian told jurors that, under the law, police use the force necessary to subdue a fleeing criminal.

A doctor testified that Crudup only needed six stitches after the beating. Thank God he didn’t need a body bag.

Encouraged by the judge’s ruling, Perez’s attorney Robert Bushell said he wants the judge to go one step further and file a motion to dismiss the simple battery conviction against his client before Perez’s April 21 sentencing.

The officer can walk away with impunity. It could happen, but we hope it won’t. Even the police must be held accountable.

If that happens, it’s unclear what it will mean for other officers awaiting trial. Will the prosecutors’ case against them collapse?

Crudup didn’t help matters, but that’s irrelevant. The 26-year-old agreed to testify after testifying and was granted immunity for his upcoming trial here on initial charges of fleeing police.

Also troubling, during Perez’s trial, Millian granted the defense the right to discuss Crudup’s arrest in another state after his Miami Beach incident. This makes Crudup a less sympathetic victim, which is also irrelevant. Crudup was clearly beaten, handcuffed and helpless while in police custody.

After last Friday’s verdict, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who has been criticized in the past for not prosecuting officers accused of roughing up suspects, supported the ruling, as she should.

He said in a prepared statement that jurors clearly weighed all the evidence, including the hotel video, before concluding that Perez’s actions violated Florida law.

Fernandez Rundle is right: Upholding the law is important.

#MiamiDade #jury #verdict #condemns #extra #police #force #Hope #decision #stands

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button