Miami, FL — In July of 2020, Miami-Dade police officer Antonio Rodriguez was relieved of duty after he was seen on body camera footage waylaying a small woman in her face. The woman's crime? Taunting the officer, saying "you acting like you white." Now, over a year after going viral and losing his job, Rodriguez has been given back pay, cleared of all charges, and the department justified the strike as a "distraction."
The Miami Herald reports that the revelation that Rodriguez won’t be prosecuted was made in a final memo released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office on Tuesday.
The incident unfolded inside the Miami International Airport in June 2020. The two were involved in a discussion before the woman becomes irate and begins taunting him.
“You acting like you white when you really Black...what you want to do?” the woman says.
The woman, Paris Anderson, who has no mask on, then gets in the officer's face, right before he delivers a haymaker to her head.
"She headbutted me,” he says as the officers rush in to handcuff her.
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The Herald reports:
The decision to not charge Rodriguez with misdemeanor battery was actually finalized on Oct. 1, more than a year after the incident at MIA, according to the memo. Prosecutors decided Rodriguez’s slap — under Florida’s self-defense law — was a “justifiable use of force” after the woman got in the officer’s face, taunted him and her forehead “may have touched” his chin area.
The department described the slap as a "distraction strike" to get the woman under control and concluded there is insufficient evidence to charge the officer.
Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez weighed in at the time, calling the officer's actions "appalling" and an “excessive use of force.” We wonder if he'll be reversing that statement now that the officer was justified in using a "distraction."
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.
Naturally, the president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association Steadman Stahl, disagrees with the mayor and top cop's sentiment and blamed the woman for getting herself hit by the cop.
Stahl said the officer used an “open-hand slap,” sometimes called a “diversionary strike," to handle the woman.
“Clearly she was the aggressor. She was being asked to leave. She’s being belligerent and she pushes her face right into his face,” said Stahl.
The union has since gotten their way and Rodriguez has since received over a year's worth of pay for not working a single day.
Anderson was never charged with a crime.
As you watch the video below, ask yourself if this cop was trying to "divert" this woman's attention or simply snapping and beating her. We think it is the latter.
Had the cop got in the woman's face instead, and she would have knocked him in the face, would Stahl still refer to her actions as "diversionary"?