MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Miami-Dade County’s police director says he has started the process to fire the officer who was seen on video striking a woman in the face at Miami International Airport earlier this week, News 6 sister station Local 10 reports.
“As a result of an administrative investigation into the officer’s conduct during this incident; it is my intent to proceed with the termination of the involved officer’s employment with the Miami-Dade Police Department,” Police Director Freddy Ramirez said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The administrative process to proceed with termination has been initiated. The MDPD holds itself accountable for its actions, and this is just another example of our commitment to do just that.”
The administrative process to proceed with termination has been initiated. The MDPD holds itself accountable for its actions, and this is just another example of our commitment to do just that. (2 of 2)— Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez III (@MDPD_Director) July 2, 2020
An arrest report released Thursday outlines what the officer, identified as Anthony Rodriguez, said occurred before and after he struck the woman. According to the arrest report, Rodriguez was called to the re-booking desk of American Airlines near Gate D37 on Tuesday regarding a woman who was behind the counter threatening employees.
The officer stated in his report that he saw the woman, later identified as Paris Anderson, 21, of Miami, cursing at employees.
Rodriguez and Officer Ricardo Alvarez approached the re-booking counter and Alvarez walked Anderson away from the counter so Rodriguez could speak with one of the airline supervisors, the arrest report stated.
Rodriguez wrote in his report that the supervisor told him that Anderson arrived at the gate late for a flight to Chicago and that she became outraged after she was denied boarding and told that the next available flight to Chicago would be the next morning.
According to her arrest report, Anderson went behind the re-booking counter to grab her boarding pass and threatened and cursed at employees when she was told she was not allowed to be there.
Rodriguez wrote in his report that the supervisor told Anderson she would not be allowed to fly with American Airlines and that her fare would be reimbursed.
According to the report, Rodriguez told Anderson to gather her belongings so the two officers could escort her away from the airport’s secured side, but she became “belligerent,” yelled obscenities and said, “I should go over there and punch him in his face,” referring to the American Airlines supervisor.
Body cam footage showing the interaction between Anderson and the officer shows Rodriguez appearing to taunt Anderson, telling her “go punch him,” although that part was not mentioned in the arrest report.
Anderson then gets close to Rodriguez’s face, telling him “You act white but you’re really black…what you gonna do?” before he hits her in the face and both officers handcuff her while she was on the floor.
In the arrest report, Rodriguez wrote that Anderson violated his personal space, bumped him with her body and struck him on the chin with her head.
The video, however, does not appear to show Anderson ever intentionally touching the officer.
Rodriguez wrote in the arrest report that Anderson continued to yell at the officers while they were escorting her to a patrol car and that he could feel spit coming from her mouth so he grabbed her by the hair to keep her face pointing forward.
He wrote that while in the backseat of the police car, Anderson spit all over the protective shield and the back seat area.
According to the report, Anderson complained about shortness of breath while at the police station but refused treatment when Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel arrived.
She was then taken to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on charges of battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
After reviewing the video, Ramirez said Wednesday that he does not condone the officer’s actions and said that Rodriguez had been relieved of duty.
“I am shocked and angered by a body camera video that I just saw involving one of our officers. I’ve immediately initiated an investigation and ordered that the involved officer be relieved of duty. Actions such as these undermine the hard work that we have invested in our community and causes my heart to break for our community and the vast majority of our officers who dedicate their lives to serving our county.”
Steadman Stahl, president of the police union representing Rodriguez tells Local 10 News how he sees the video.
“She was clearly aggressive, she was very upset,” said Stahl, of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association. “She’s got no mask on. She walks into him and pushes her face into his face.”
Stahl called what Rodriguez did a diversionary strike, an open-hand slap intended to help get her into custody.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez called the video appalling and the use of force unnecessary.
Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said her office is looking into the incident.
“Like so many in our community, I am angered when I see abusive or improper conduct by a police officer,” the state attorney said in a statement Thursday. “I have spoken to 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.”
According to the Miami-Dade Police Department, Rodriguez has been employed with the agency for 31 years — three years as a public service aide and 28 years as a sworn law enforcement officer.