Miami police officer ‘relieved of duty’ after video shows him punch woman at airport

Miami officer under investigation after video shows him punch woman at airport

MIAMI — A Miami-Dade police officer has been relieved of duty and is under criminal investigation after video surfaced that shows him punching a woman at Miami International Airport last month.

The video, posted on Instagram and Twitter by Miami-based filmmaker Billy Corben, indicates the incident took place on Wednesday. The footage begins with two masked police officers speaking to a woman, identified by WPLG in Miami as 21-year-old Paris Anderson.

The conversation appears to turn heated in the footage. Anderson steps close to one of the officers, identified as Sgt. Anthony Rodriguez, and continues to argue with him.

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“What you want to do?” Anderson demands, at which point Rodriguez suddenly pulls back and delivers a punch to Anderson’s face.

Watch the video below. Warning: It contains images some readers might find disturbing.

Rodriguez and the other officer tackle her to the ground and handcuff her.

The video appears to be body camera footage, but it is unclear how Corben obtained the recording.

Miami-Dade police Director Alfredo Ramirez addressed the video Wednesday night after it had circulated through the department.

“I am shocked and angered by a body cam video that I just saw involving one of our officers,” Ramirez said in a statement posted on social media. “I’ve immediately initiated an investigation and ordered that the involved officers 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 for the vast majority of our officers who dedicate their lives to serving our county. This will not stand, and I assure our community that any officer acting in this vein will be held to account.”

Ramirez said he has also asked Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade state attorney, to become involved in the investigation.

Alfredo Ramirez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle are pictured at a Jan. 23, 2020, news conference in Miami.
Alfredo Ramirez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle are pictured at a Jan. 23, 2020, news conference in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Rodriguez has been an officer with the Miami-Dade police force for 28 years, WPLG reported.

An arrest report obtained by the news station states that Anderson was accused of going behind an American Airlines counter and threatening employees prior to the confrontation with Rodriguez.

Rodriguez wrote in the report that airline employees said Anderson arrived late for a flight to Chicago and became angry when she was denied boarding and told the next flight would be the following morning. The report said Anderson went behind the counter and grabbed her boarding pass while cursing at and threatening the workers, according to the news station.

In the body camera footage, Anderson threatens to go over and punch an airline employee, which Rodriguez appears to goad her to do.

“Go punch him,” Rodriguez said multiple times.

WPLG reported that the exchange was not in the police report Rodriguez filed.

Workers prepare American Airlines planes for flight April 24, 2019, at Miami International Airport.
Workers prepare American Airlines planes for flight April 24, 2019, at Miami International Airport. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Anderson gets in the officer’s face, telling him, “You act white, but you’re really black.”

She says something else that is unintelligible in the footage before asking Rodriguez what he’s going to do.

He hits her. Witnesses can be heard groaning at the sound of the punch.

In the arrest report, Rodriguez wrote that Anderson violated his personal space and bumped him with her body before he hit her. He also claimed that she struck him in the chin with her head.

The footage does not appear to show Anderson touching the officer before he hit her.

Anderson was charged with battery of a police officer and disorderly conduct, according to WPLG.

Rundle said in a statement Thursday that she is angered when evidence and allegations arise about abusive or improper conduct by police officers.

“I have spoken to @MDPD_Director Ramirez about this incident & have my Public Corruption prosecutors on it,” Rundle tweeted. “We are gathering the body camera evidence & witness/victim testimony at this very moment.”

A Miami-Dade police officer was suspended Wednesday, July 1, 2020, after body camera footage captured him punching a woman at Miami International Airport. The woman, Paris Anderson, pictured, has been charged with battery of a police officer and disorderly conduct.
A Miami-Dade police officer was suspended Wednesday, July 1, 2020, after body camera footage captured him punching a woman at Miami International Airport. The woman, Paris Anderson, pictured, has been charged with battery of a police officer and disorderly conduct. (Miami-Dade Police Department via AP, Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)