MIAMI (AP) — Three South Florida police officers are facing criminal charges in separate incidents: two accused of using excessive force during arrests and the other accused of purposefully shooting a fellow officer with a Taser stun gun.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced the charges Wednesday at a news conference.
“Excessive force can never be an acceptable foundation for the policing of any community,” Fernandez Rundle said. “Officers who forget that, they do a great disservice to the people they have sworn to serve. They do great harm to their department, and they belittle hard work that each of their fellow officers tries to accomplish in their community.”
This past September, Opa-locka Police Capt. Sergio Perez asked a sergeant in the department if he wanted to be certified to use a new Taser, according to an arrest report. Despite the sergeant repeatedly telling Perez that he did not, Perez fired the weapon at the sergeant, striking him in the side, officials said.
The Taser was loaded with a training cartridge that didn’t inflict a shock, but it still left two wounds on the sergeant’s abdomen. The report said the training cartridges are only supposed to be shot at someone wearing a special training suit. Investigators said Perez was not a certified Taser trainer.
Perez faces a charge of misdemeanor battery.
In March 2020, Miami Gardens police officer Javier Castano was one of several officers to respond to a complaint about a vehicle doing donuts in a gas station parking lot, according to a report. Prosecutors released body camera footage that appears to show Castano kicking a man who was already subdued on the ground in the head and putting a knee to the man’s neck.
Castano faces two counts of misdemeanor battery.
In July 2020, Miami-Dade police officer Joseph Diaz responded to reports of a shirtless, intoxicated man yelling in an apartment complex parking lot, according to an arrest warrant. Body camera footage shows Diaz initially allow the man to leave and go to his nearby home. But after the man called Diaz a derogatory name while walking away, Diaz called the man back and took him into custody, officials said.
Investigator said that the sworn report that Diaz wrote after the arrest didn’t match the events shown in the body camera footage.
Diaz faces charges of felony official misconduct and misdemeanor battery.
Online court and jail records didn’t list attorney for the officers.
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