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A Miami-area police officer is facing criminal charges after surveillance video showed him slamming a handcuffed suspect into a wall at a police substation last year.
Homestead Police Officer Lester Brown was charged with felony battery and official misconduct for the December incident which left a handcuffed suspect bleeding, according to the Miami-Dade State's Attorney Wednesday.
The suspect, Jose Garcia, was arrested on the evening of December 1, 2018, for disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest after a complaint was made about a drunk man breaking a house window.
Brown was escorting Garcia into the booking room and immediately shoved Garcia into a concrete wall upon entering the room, according to both the state's attorney and the video. Garcia immediately started bleeding from the forehead and was taken to the hospital where he had a cut treated with surgical glue, according to the state's attorney.
Brown said in a case report after the incident that Garcia pushed back against Brown and attempted to attack other officers. Some of the report released by the state's attorney's office was redacted, but at one point Brown claimed that Garcia "fell forward" and hit his head on the wall.
The state's attorney office's investigation summary said that none of the other officers present were able to support Brown's claim that Garcia was resisting officers or exhibiting aggressive behavior.
"In their sworn statements, the accompanying police officers acknowledged only seeing the Victim turn towards the Defendant before the Defendant shoved the Victim from behind into the concrete wall," the investigation summary stated.
Brown's attorney told the Miami Herald the arrest was part of a "political" vendetta because his client is involved in a discrimination lawsuit against the city, claiming he was passed over for promotion because he’s missing two fingers.
Brown has previously been disciplined for violence against suspects, having been suspended for an incident in 2016 when he slapped a handcuffed woman in the police station. The department tried to fire him, but an arbiter intervened, reports the Herald.
Homestead Police Chief Alexander Rolle Jr. said at a Wednesday press conference that Brown was relieved of his duty without pay pending termination.
Brown was booked into jail Wednesday and was released later that day, NBC Miami reported.