“Police officers face a variety of dangers on the job each and every day,” State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a press conference. “However, as I’ve previously said, excessive force can never, ever, ever, be an acceptable foundation for the policing of any community.”
The incident, which occurred on July 26, was not only captured by a bystander’s camera but on hotel surveillance footage and the police officers’ body cameras. During a press conference, Rundle played edited, pre-captioned, and highlighted portions of the incident, which totaled four minutes of content.
(Warning: The Twitter thread below contains violent video, photos, and language that may not be suitable for all readers.)
The video begins with an officer stopping 24-year-old Dalonta Crudup at gunpoint following a brief chase into a hotel. Crudup is seen putting both hands in the air and lying facedown on the floor before he is swarmed by more than a dozen officers. According to the state attorney, a total of 21 officers converged at the hotel before excessive force was used on Crudup, the Miami Herald reported.
According to police officials, the whole incident began when Crudup allegedly illegally parked his scooter. When confronted about it, he allegedly struck an officer with the scooter and then fled in the direction of the hotel. The struck officer was allegedly left with leg injuries that required hospitalization and crutches.
After being ordered to leave an elevator at gunpoint in the hotel, Rundle said Perez kicked Crudup in the head three times and Perez kicked him four times. The video depicts this violence, with the officers appearing to even lift Crudup from the ground before slamming his head on the floor.
“You see officer Kevin Perez kicking Mr. Crudup. You see him being kicked in the head. You see Kevin Perez kick him 4 times. Then you see officer Jose Perez, who is no relation to Kevin Perez, kick him three times,” Rundle said. Rundle noted that from the footage and audio evidence, Crudup seems to have already been handcuffed during this violence.
Excessive force was not only used on Crudup but also on the innocent bystander who attempted to use his cellphone to record the arrest. According to the state attorney, the bystander was identified as 28-year-old Khalif Vaughn.
“You see officer Robert Sabater run and tackle him,” she said. “You see a bunch of punches to his rib area and kidneys. Then you see Officer David Rivas punch Mr. Vaughn in his rib cage area. And you see Officer Steven Serrano repeatedly strike him,” she explained.
Police had accused Vaughn of impeding their investigation and not maintaining a 20-foot distance. He was charged with resisting an arrest with violence and impeding a police investigation, while Crudup was charged with things that include aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.
In response to the incident, Miami Beach Police Chief Robert Clements said: “I’m disappointed that this is out there, and it depicts our department in the manner that it does when I know we are much better than that.”
He added: “This in no measure reflects the men and women in the Miami Beach Police Department. Moving forward, I can tell you that my staff and I promise you, as individuals and as an agency, we will learn from this, and we will grow from this, and we will do better. This is not what you see from officers.”
After seeing the footage, Clements immediately suspended the officers. He also asked that charges against both victims be dropped. Investigations into the incident began when Clements contacted Rundle’s office and Internal Affairs.
In a Twitter post on Monday, Rundle thanked Clements for “swiftly recognizing the wrongs committed & bringing the matter to my attention.” According to CNN, the state attorney confirmed charges against Vaughn have been dropped, but the case against Crudup for allegedly hitting an officer with his scooter is under investigation.
“When we saw that kick to the head. And then we, and then we replayed it and we see all the other kicks that preceded it, it was just unfathomable, it was unspeakable, it is just inexcusable.” Rundle said. “I’m not alone in that feeling. I watched the chief watch that video and his head just went right down on the desk. So we’re all really horrified by it.”
All five officers have been relieved of duty pending an investigation into the case, according to Clements.
In a statement, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber thanked prosecutors and police for moving so quickly on the case, which is an uncommon occurrence, the Miami Herald reported.
“The video is not who we are, which is why our department took decisive actions within hours of the incident.”
In an interview with Local 10 News, Crudup said he believed the officers were after him for riding a scooter with headphones on. He denied hitting the officer who police say is now injured. Crudup said that he ran from the scene because he was scared of being chased by the officers.
“They trying to put a Black man in jail for no reason,” he said. “I ain’t do nothing wrong.”