Things That Matter

New Bodycam Footage Shows Miami Police Officer Violently Arresting a Pregnant 20-Year-Old, Knocking Her Unconscious

Locals in Miami and around the world are shocked after viewing a newly-released body camera video that shows a Miami police officer use violence and brutality against 20-year-old Julissa Burgos. Now, even after the police officer’s resignation, many are still demanding justice from the department.

Back in November 2020, Burgos and a Miami police officer engaged in a heated exchange after the owner of Valero Gas Station called police to kick her out. Police officer Miguel Hernandez arrived, and an internal affairs investigation showed that “Ms. Burgos [walked] past officer Hernandez’s vehicle, [appeared] to turn her cigarette off on his vehicle and [continued] to walk across the street.”

At that point, the body camera video shows Hernandez become increasingly angry, ordering Burgos to clean his car. Burgos asks, “where is your warrant for arrest?” and says she is pregnant. Hernandez replies, “you’re going to go to jail so fast” saying she will be arrested “for vandalizing.” At that point, the situation escalates much further, when both Hernandez and another police officer begin to use excessive force in Burgos’ arrest.

The two police officers grab Burgos as she resists and cries out, “help me.”

Both officers can be seen using a clear display of force on her, as she screams and cries. The officers throw her on the floor and say “stop resisting,” but Burgos once again says she is pregnant and continues to yell out, “help me.” They put her in the back of the police vehicle as Burgos says, “I can’t breathe.” In an official complaint filed after the incident, the now 22-year-old explained, “I suffer from stress-induced seizures. I have no control over when it happens.”

Although the exchange is difficult enough to watch, at that point the video gets worse. Burgos talks about her seizures, and she spits on Hernandez. The officer reacts by grabbing Burgos by the neck, and throwing her on the ground. Clearly knocked unconscious, the other officer looks up in shock, screaming, “what the hell did you do?”

Onlookers begin to walk up to the officers, yelling about them having gone too far. The officers then call for fire rescue to arrive on the scene.

Burgos was then arrested for assault on a police officer and criminal mischief, with her mugshot showing swelling and bruising on her face. A later Internal Affairs investigation led to Hernandez resigning from the Miami Police Department in June 2021. 

The Civilian Investigative Panel met on Tuesday to discuss Burgos’ rough arrest, although police say the 22-year-old is not cooperating with the investigation.

While 7News says Burgos’ father is “infuriated” with Hernandez and wants to see justice served, a memo released by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office said Hernandez will not be prosecuted but can no longer be a police officer in Florida. The memo explains, “the complainant, Julissa Burgos, did not want to cooperate with a prosecution by going to trial… she was concerned about her individual case.”

The memo also describes how Burgos and her father are allegedly “satisfied” that Hernandez is no longer able to be a police officer. Still, as reported by Local 10, the Civilian Investigative Panel’s review for misconduct Tuesday agreed that “more than one officer is responsible for what went wrong.” They determined “four total” but two no longer work for the department, so “options are limited” when it comes to consequences.

The panel reviewed the videos for “months,” saying they were “surprised, stunned, shocked, even disgusted” when viewing the footage. The Oversight Committee deemed Hernandez’s actions “excessive” and “should be criminal.” On the panel, Stephen Navarrete said, “there wasn’t a point at all in that video where the officer was de-escalating the situation.”

Former Miami chief Art Acevedo filed a lawsuit against the city after he was fired, citing Hernandez not being charged as evidence of “a pattern of a coverup of excessive force cases to protect cops.” He also explained he was trying to change that. 

As per Local 10, the State Attorney’s office says criminal charges against Hernandez are “unlikely” because Burgos is not cooperating with investigations. Meanwhile, a sergeant involved in the case retired after he admitted to fabricating a police report, and two more officers involved are still working for the department — although the panel recommended they be disciplined for “improper use” of body cameras.

Miami-based documentary film director Billy Corben shared on his Instagram on Wednesday that both Sergeant Carlos Mendez, who lied in the report, and Hernandez, were allowed to keep their pensions after resigning. He also included a screenshot from 2018 of an alleged text exchange between former member of the Miami Civilian Investigative Panel Daniel Suarez and current Miami Mayor Francis Suarez that shows the Mayor saying that problems within the police department “are made up.”

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