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Police union stands up for fired cop charged with kicking suspect in the head on video

The Fraternal Order of Police expressed support for a Miami Police Department officer who was recorded on video kicking a suspect. The union said Figueroa didn't actually make contact with the suspect's head. (Image source: WFOR-TV video screenshot)

A Miami Police Department officer who was fired after a recording appeared to show him kicking a handcuffed suspect in the head has the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, WFOR-TV reported.

Former Officer Mario Figueroa was terminated and charged with one count of misdemeanor assault for the May 3 incident involving suspected car thief David Suazo.

What's the story?

Police chased down and arrested Suazo on the morning of May 3 after he was reportedly found driving a stolen vehicle.

According to the video, when Suazo was being handcuffed on the ground by another officer, Figueroa appeared to take a running start and kick Suazo in the head. A witness recording on a cellphone captured the incident, and the video was posted on social media.

Figueroa lost his job as a result of the incident. Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina called the behavior a "clear violation of policy." Figueroa was also criminally charged.

"Officer Mario Figueroa can have no excuse for the alleged actions seen on the initial videotape," State Attorney Katherine Rundle said, according to WFOR. "This community demands respect for all individuals taken into custody. Any evidence of abuse, which is also evidence of a crime, will assist us in going forward with this case."

Union supports Figueroa

The Miami Fraternal Order of Police said that Figueroa didn't actually make contact with Suazo's head, and he should not be charged.

The union's claim is based on a video taken at the hospital after Suazo's arrest in which he's heard mocking Figueroa for missing him with the kick.

"If I wanted to kick you, you know, I would have kicked you right," Figueroa says in the video.

The FOP released a statement:

Since Officer Figueroa never kicked the suspect and simply gestured to make him comply, no use of force report is warranted. The Fraternal Order of Police has all the confidence in the criminal justice system as well as our due process rights that Officer Figueroa will be vindicated.
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