Florida Officer Relieved of Duty After Video Showed Him Hitting Black Woman

An officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department has been relieved of duty after body camera footage that showed him hitting a woman in an airport started circulating online.

A recording of the body camera footage, captured off another screen, was posted on Instagram by filmmaker Billy Corben. According to the timestamp, it took place on Wednesday.

The video shows a Black woman having a heated conversation with two masked officers inside a terminal at Miami International Airport.

She is then seen getting up close to one officer and taunting him by saying: "You acting like you white when you really Black… What you want to do?"

That officer responds by hitting the woman in the face and tackling her to the ground. "She headbutted me," the officer is heard claiming as the other officers at the scene rush to help him restrain the woman on the floor.

Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez moved to quickly relieve the officers involved in the incident of duty and said he had asked Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle to investigate.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Ramirez said he was "angered" by the footage and said the officer's actions undermined the work of the police department.

"I am shocked and angered by a body cam video that I just saw involving one of our officers," he wrote. "I've immediately initiated an investigation and ordered that the involved officers be relieved of duty."

He added: "Actions such as these undermine the hard work that we have invested our community and causes my heart to break for our community and for the vast majority of our officers who dedicate their lives to serving our County.

"This will not stand, and I assure our community that any officer acting in this vain will be held to account."

In a statement provided to Newsweek, Rundle said: "Like so many in our community, I am angered when I see abusive or improper conduct by a police officer."

"I have spoken with MDPD Director Ramirez about this incident and have my Public Corruption prosecutors gathering the body camera evidence and witness/victim testimony at this very moment."

our community and causes my heart to break for our community and for the vast majority of our officers who dedicate their lives to serving our County. This will not stand, and I assure our community that any officer acting in this vain will be held to account. (2 of 3)...

— Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez III (@MDPD_Director) July 2, 2020

Ramirez did not identify the officer seen hitting the woman, but The Miami Herald, citing multiple sources, identified him as Antonio Clemente Rodriguez, a Black officer of Puerto Rican heritage, who was stationed at the airport.

The woman's identity isn't immediately known. According to The Herald, she had been complaining loudly inside the terminal about a missed or delayed flight prompting a ticket agent to call police.

It comes amid a nationwide reckoning on the use of force by law enforcement following weeks of sustained protests against police brutality and racism touched off by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis police custody in late May.

The Miami-Dade Police Department has been contacted for additional comment.

This article has been updated with a statement from the state attorney's office

Miami
Demonstrators participate in a protest against police brutality on June 12, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images