A Miami-Dade Police Department officer was relieved of duty after being caught on video punching a woman in the face at Miami International Airport Wednesday night. After the video went viral on Twitter, Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez launched an investigation into the incident. The woman who was punched, 21-year-old Paris Anderson, was arrested and charged with battery on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
Miami filmmaker Billy Corben tweeted the video, which begins with a woman and a police officer arguing for an unknown reason in the check-in line at a gate. At one point, the woman is heard yelling at the officer, "What are you going to do?" The officer then sucker-punched the woman, then grabbed her and pushed her to the ground. The officer who punched the woman is heard yelling, "She headbutted me."
According to the arrest report, the officer, Anthony Rodriguez, was called to an American Airlines re-booking desk at one of the gates Tuesday because a woman was allegedly behind the counter, threatening an employee. The officer wrote he saw Anderson cursing at employees. Rodriguez and another officer, Ricardo Alvarez, arrived at the scene. Alvarez pulled Anderson from the counter so Rodriquez could talk one of the airline employees, the report states, according to Local 10.
The airline employee told Rodriguez that Anderson was late for a flight to Chicago and was angry that the next flight was not until Wednesday morning, Rodriguez wrote. After she was told about the next flight, Anderson allegedly went behind the counter to get her boarding pass. While she was told she could not be there, she cursed and threatened the employees, according to the report. Rodriguez claimed that Anderson was also told she could not fly with American Airlines again and she would not be given her money back for the missed flight. When Rodriguez told Anderson to get her things, she started cursing at the officers and became "belligerent," Rodriguez wrote.
Body camera footage from the incident appears to show Rodriguez taunting Anderson, telling her to punch an airline employee after she said she would, although Rodriguez did not mention this in his report. Anderson is heard telling Rodriguez close to his face, "You act white but you’re really black…what you gonna do?" He then punched her and the two officers handcuffed her when she was on the floor. In the report, Rodriguez claimed Anderson "violated" his personal space, but it does not appear that Anderson intentionally touched him in the video.
Anderson allegedly continued yelling at the officers as they took her to a patrol car and spit at them. He grabbed her by the hair to take her to the car. Anderson said she lost her breath, but refused treatment when fire rescue personnel arrived. She is now in custody at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
This is appalling. It’s excessive use of force and unnecessary. That’s NOT what our @MiamiDadePD are trained to do. @MDPD_Director Ramirez has ordered the officer relieved of duty & investigation is underway. This is why I instituted body cameras & MDPD is reviewing all footage. https://t.co/KHDsEohBym— Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez (@MayorGimenez) July 2, 2020
After the viral video was published, Ramirez said there will be an investigation, and Rodriguez was 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," she said in a statement. Rodriguez has been a law enforcement officer for 28 years.