Bodycam Footage of Miami Cop Slamming Pregnant Woman to the Ground Probed

Bodycam footage showing a former Miami police officer slamming a handcuffed woman, who said she was pregnant, to the ground and knocking her out has been reviewed by a police oversight group.

The city of Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP) convened to discuss the arrest of Julissa Burgos, in November 2020, at a Valero gas station on Northwest Seventh Street and 17th Avenue on Tuesday.

Bodycam footage captured officer Miguel Hernandez confronting the woman, then 20, who was sitting on the sidewalk after previously being moved on from a gas station.

Burgos is alleged to have flicked cigarette ash on Hernandez's vehicle after leaving the gas station. Spotting her sitting nearby, Hernandez approached her again and told her to return to clean the patrol car, as another officer arrived and tried to stand Burgos up.

The situation escalated as the video captures the pair cuffing a sobbing Burgos on the ground, who tells them she's pregnant. She shouts "help me" at passers-by, and repeatedly yells "don't touch me" at the officers. She's told she's resisting arrest, as she says they're "breaking my arm."

Bodycam footage of Julissa Burgos’ arrest.
Bodycam footage of Julissa Burgos’ arrest. The footage was scrutinized by a panel on Tuesday. Civilian Investigative Panel

They get her into the police vehicle still parked on the forecourt, where the camera captures Burgos spitting at Hernandez from the back of the cruiser. The footage then shows him grabbing her by the neck and throwing her to the ground, and she appears to have been knocked unconscious.

As she falls to the floor, the other officer yells at Hernandez, saying: "What the hell did you do?" and: "What the hell?" Customers at the gas station also confront the officers as backup arrives.

Photos of Burgos after the incident show extreme swelling and bruising on one side of her face.

The CIP condemned the footage, following a months-long investigation, with a clip from the meeting indicating Minca Brantley said: "We were obviously very surprised, stunned, shocked, even disgusted to witness what we saw in that body-worn footage."

Bodycam footage of Julissa Burgos’ arrest.
Bodycam footage of Julissa Burgos’ arrest. The officer involved in the incident later resigned. Civilian Investigative Panel

Rodney Jacobs, assistant director of the CIP, said: "During our complaints committee members of the panel were deeply shaken by the actions of the officer, and questioned his ability to do any law enforcement in America.

"This is deeply concerning behavior that should never be tolerated and should spark the interest of the state attorney for criminal prosecution."

The Miami Police Department issued statements on its social media pages on Tuesday, attributed to Assistant Chief Cherise Gause.

It said: "The Miami Police Department is aware of a video circulating social media depicting a Miami Police officer involved in a use of force incident which occurred on November 27, 2020.

"An Internal Affairs Investigation was conducted and we have cooperated with the State Attorney's office.

"As of June 22, 2021, M. Hernandez is no longer employed by the City of Miami Police Department."

Burgos is reported to have filed a complaint days after the arrest. As well as the Internal Affairs Investigation, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office is also said to have looked into the incident.

The CIP has no disciplinary power. It can make recommendations, but it only has jurisdiction over sworn police officers.

The CIP is said to have recommended closing the case against two officers, including Hernandez, linked to the incident, who have both since left the force.

According to a clip of the CIP meeting, member George Ray said: "I think he should have been fired. He shouldn't have been allowed to resign, and that has to change."

The incident involving Burgos was among those cited by former Miami Police chief, Art Acevedo, who was fired in October 2021, just six months into the job.

The lawsuit was filed against the City of Miami, City Manager Art Noriega and Commissioners Joe Carollo, Alex Díaz de la Portilla and Manolo Reyes, in January.

An excerpt, cited in multiple publications, stated: "After being sworn in as Chief, Chief Acevedo discovered a pattern of excessive use of force by City of Miami officers and learned that, in some instances the MPD chain of command had covered up instances of excessive use of force.

"In one instance, after a woman in police custody spat on an officer, the officer punched her in the face and drove her to the ground, causing her to lose consciousness."

Newsweek has reached out to the CIP for comment.

 Bodycam footage of Julissa Burgos’ arrest.
Bodycam footage of Julissa Burgos’ arrest. The cameras captured Burgos' facer already beginning to swell soon after the altercation. Civilian Investigative Panel