Five US police officers charged over violent arrests of Black men

A woman wears a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during a rally for racial justice on the one-year anniversary of the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks, in Atlanta, Georgia, the United States [File: Dustin Chambers/Reuters]

Five police officers in Florida have been charged with battery connected to the violent arrests of two Black men last week. Surveillance video showed an officer chase Dalonta Crudup, 24, into the lobby of the Royal Palm Hotel in South Beach in the early morning hours of July 26.

The officer ordered Crudup onto the ground at gunpoint, and Crudup complied. Moments later, more than a dozen other officers ran into the lobby to surround Crudup, who could be seen on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle held a news conference on Monday to announce the first-degree misdemeanor charges against Miami Beach police Sergeant Jose Perez, Officer Kevin Perez, Officer Robert Sabater, Officer David Rivas and Officer Steven Serrano.

The officers have been suspended and turned themselves in on Monday. Fernandez Rundle said additional charges might follow. Fernandez Rundle said body camera footage of the Miami incident showed Sergeant Jose Perez kick a handcuffed Crudup three times, while Officer Kevin Perez kicked Crudup at least four times.

“When we saw that kick to the head, and then we replayed it and we saw all the other kicks that preceded it. It was unfathomable. Unspeakable. Inexcusable, “ she said.

Fernandez Rundle said surveillance video also showed Khalid Vaughn, 28, using a mobile phone to record Crudup’s arrest from about four metres (12 feet) away. Body camera footage showed Vaughn backing away at the instruction of an officer when Sabater tackled Vaughn, throwing him to the floor and repeatedly punching him. Fernandez Rundle said Rivas and Serrano also struck Vaughn.

“I started recording it. They already got him in handcuffs. They beat him, turned around, charged me down, beat me … punched me, elbowed me in the face,” Vaughn told Miami’s Local 10 news on Monday. “I literally got jumped by officers,” he said. The channel reported that Shariff Cobb, 27, also recorded the incident with his mobile phone and was arrested.

Officers said they initially followed Crudup into the hotel because he struck a bicycle patrol officer while driving a scooter recklessly. That officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of leg injuries. Crudup was charged with several counts, including aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer. Charges against Vaughn of resisting an arrest with violence and impeding a police investigation have been dropped.

Crudup said he suffered from a black eye, blood on his chin and bruised ribs. “I got beat up, got stitches, went to the hospital,” he told Local 10 News on July 27 after posting bond.

He said he did not realise that police officers were chasing him because he had headphones on and denied that he struck a police officer.

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