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Miami officer charged after video shows handcuffed suspect kicked in head

Video shows a Miami officer kicking a handcuffed suspect in the head

CBS Miami

MIAMI -- A Miami police officer who was seen on video kicking the head of a man in handcuffs has been arrested and charged with assault, reports CBS Miami. Officer Mario Figueroa took part in the May 3 arrest of car theft suspect David Vladim Suazo. 

The 51-second video posted Thursday morning by a witness, Lisa Harrell, shows the 31-year-old suspect lying face down on the ground with an officer standing over him. That officer gets on his back and handcuffs him. Suazo doesn't appear to be struggling.

Just after the second handcuff is secured, an officer identified as Figueroa runs in and kicks Suazo in the head. That officer then turns around and dives on Suazo's head.

Figueroa has been charged with one count of assault, a second-degree misdemeanor, the station reports. An arraignment date has not yet been set.  

Harrell, a stay-at-home mom, says she went outside her apartment Thursday morning to see what was causing her dog to bark. She said she saw Suazo running back and forth until he was trapped by officers and surrendered. She used her cellphone to shoot the video.

Police said officers had tried to pull over Suazo in a stolen Jeep but he sped away then crashed into a wall at Harrell's apartment complex. They say Suazo took a fighting stance when confronted by Figueroa, who tried to shock him with his stun gun, but it was ineffective. The other officer fired his stun gun at Suazo and ordered him to the ground, and he complied.

Suazo is charged with grand theft, fleeing an officer and other charges. No information on an attorney for Suazo was available.

Figueroa was relieved of duty the same day as the arrest.

Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said in a statement released to the station the department has begun the termination process for Figueroa.

"The Miami Police Department would like to assure the community that it will not tolerate any transgressions against the badge its officers are meant to wear with honor, and remains committed to maintaining the highest possible standards of ethics, transparency, and accountability," the statement said.