Florida cop caught punching unarmed man on video gets reinstated
A Florida police officer who was suspended for punching an unarmed man outside a hotel has been cleared of wrongdoing by prosecutors and internal affairs investigators.
Miami Beach Officer Adriel Dominguez – who was caught on body-cam footage cold-cocking Lowell Poitier Jr. at a restaurant outside the Pelican Hotel in December 2018 – is back on the force following a review by Miami-Dade state prosecutors who found he used the proper amount of force after being threatened by the man, the Miami Herald reports.
In a memo that cleared Dominguez in October, prosecutors said the cop could’ve reasonably believed Poitier was “about to hit him” as the man made an aggressive gesture after seemingly picking up something from a nearby table.
The footage then shows Poitier approaching Dominguez and saying, “What? What?” in the cop’s face, prompting the officer to respond with a brutal right-hand, sending Poitier to the ground instantly.
“Watch yourself, bud,” someone on the footage said just before the one-punch knockout.
Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Clements said policing “doesn’t always look good,” but said Dominguez’s response fell within department guidelines.
“I believe this is one of those cases,” Clements told the Herald Tuesday. “[Poitier] was in what the office perceived to be a fighting stance. In that case the officer reverted back to his training. It was a distractionary blow.”
While Dominguez was cleared in the case, two other officers who shared video of the punch have been disciplined, including Miami Beach Officer Alfredo Garcia, who got a written warning in July for “producing and distributing an unauthorized version” of recordings from his body-worn camera, the Herald reports.
Garcia used his cellphone to record the footage and then posted it onto social media, according to the newspaper.
The other officer, Frederick Dominguez, who is not related to Adriel Dominguez, has been notified of a 10-hour suspension for releasing a copy of Garcia’s recording to attorney Michael Pizzi. The cop had asked Pizzi to “forward it to the proper authorities” as he sought whistleblower protection, the newspaper reports.
Pizzi, meanwhile, denounced prosecutors for failing to file charges against Adriel Dominguez as his own client continues to fight his suspension.
“What a disgrace,” Pizzi told the newspaper. “Based on the way this was handled, it’s open season on innocent people. It’s outrageous.”
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