The Miami police officer who was caught on video last week running up to a handcuffed man and kicking at his head was charged with assault Tuesday afternoon.
Turns out, his foot did not connect with the man’s head, which is why Mario Figueroa was charged with misdemeanor assault instead of battery.
That determination was made after reviewing Figueroa’s body cam footage, which captured an exchange between himself and the suspect, David Suazo, who taunts the officer for missing his head.
“Missed on the kick. Learn how to aim my boy,” Suazo said.
“If I wanted to kick you, you know, I would have kicked you right,” Figueroa replied.
“If you wanted to, you’d got your ass shot,” Suazo responded.
“I didn’t kick you, I didn’t want to kick you,” Figueroa said. “I needed you to comply, so me pretending to kick you got you to comply.”
The only problem is, Sauzo was complying. That is evident in the video.
But Figueroa will likely escape conviction by convincing investigators he had a reasonable belief that Sauzo was not complying, even though it should have been obvious he was complying.
According to the Miami Herald, where the body cam footage is posted:
The video emerged as the Miami Police Department remains under federal supervision stemming from a series of shootings of black men several years ago — and comes against the backdrop of increased national scrutiny on police use of force.
City leaders reacted with outrage to the video of a Hispanic officer seemingly attacking a handcuffed black man.
Commissioner Keon Hardemon, whose district includes Overtown, called Figueroa’s kick “disgusting and cowardly,” while Mayor Francis Suarez said he wants to empower the police chief with the ability to fire officers quicker.
As for Suazo, he remains in jail for a host of felony charges. He had been on probation for burglary with assault when he was arrested.
Sauzo is accused of stealing a jeep and leading cops on a pursuit through the streets of Miami before he crashed the jeep and fled on foot.
But he eventually surrendered by laying flat on his stomach on the grass, allowing an officer to handcuff him. That was when Figueroa came running up as if he was playing a game of kickball, swinging his foot towards Sauzo’s head, almost losing his balance in the process.