Miami Beach police chief right to take forceful stand against excessive force | Editorial

·3 min read

Here’s an encouraging sign that toxic policing is being called out — at least this week in Miami Beach.

On Tuesday, four Miami Beach police officers were relieved of duty and publicly chastised by their chief, Richard Clements, for using excessive force in the arrest of two Black men, one simply for videotaping on his cell phone the arrest of another man in a hotel lobby.

Finally. It’s a reminder that it shouldn’t take video released to the public and street protests for police leaders to demand better from their officers and to punish them when they go rogue.

After seeing his officers’ body-cam video, Clements quickly asked the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office to drop the charges of interfering with police against Khalid Vaughn, 28, in town for the Rolling Loud Festival. He videotaped the arrest of Daltona Crudup in the lobby of the Royal Palm Hotel at 15th Street and Collins Avenue.

Crudup allegedly was fleeing from police after striking and injring an officer with his scooter.

At about 1 a.m. Monday, officers chased him to the hotel lobby — and Vaughn, witnessing a rough arrest, began to videotape. That was his crime. He, too, was beaten, arrested and hauled off to jail.

Recording for evidence

Vaughn told WPLG-Channel 10 he had done what many Black citizens have done after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police: start recording when they see a confrontation between police and Black citizens. Who can blame them?

Vaughn said Crudup was already handcuffed, but officers were using excessive force against him. “You don’t have to beat him,’ he told the officers “They, turned around, charged me down, beat me,” Vaughn told the station. “Punched me, elbowed me in the face.” Then shoved him into a cruiser to jail.

The police-cam video was shown to Clements, who took only hours to take decisive action.

“I have serious concerns about the force utilized after Mr. Crudup was in custody, including the level of force utilized in the subsequent arrest of Mr. Vaughn. This will not be tolerated,” Clements said in a statement.

Bravo for the lack of weasel words. We commend Clements’ quick action to get violent officers off the street.

Two investigations

The chief launched an internal affairs probe and contacted State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who said she shared his “serious concerns about the level of force utilized in the arrests.” She, too, is investigating.

Here’s what’s different about this case.

Clements acted without the video being posted to social media and repeatedly broadcast on television. It’s called being proactive. It’s called doing the right thing.

But, as usual, there’s a cloud looming over the public’s right to take a stand against police brutality and call it out. State Rep. Alex Rizo, R–Hialeah, is proposing legislation that would criminalize recording an officer making an arrest. Like banning lessons in systemic racism from Florida classrooms and criminalizing select peaceful protests, this proposal is one more indication that Republicans in the Legislature simply can’t handle the truth, no matter what the U.S. Constitution guarantees.

It will be a real crime if it becomes law.

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