Monday, July 23, 2018
Public safety

Cop videotaped striking drunk woman in face at football game cleared of wrongdoing

The Miami-Dade police officer whose cat-quick strike to a drunken woman’s face during a Miami Hurricanes football game earlier this month was captured on video, has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Three weeks ago, Miami-Dade police officer Douglas Ross reacted to a backhanded slap by clearly inebriated 30-year-old Bridget Freitas as he and other officers tried to carry her out of the stands. According to a use-of-force report provided on Wednesday to The Herald, Ross’s supervisors found the 18-year police veteran’s actions were within departmental rules.

Miami-Dade police Director Juan Perez, while noting the optics were less than optimal, said the bottom line is that officers don’t distinguish between males and females when throwing a punch.

"Did it look pretty? No," said Perez. "But he instinctively reacted to being hit in the face."

The report written by Ross’s supervisor, Sgt. Javier Baez, recounted what police said happened in the stands at Hard Rock Stadium earlier this month, when UM played a pivotal home game against Virginia Tech before its most raucous crowd in almost two decades.

According to the report, Ross and other off-duty officers in uniform responded to Section 129 to help remove Freitas, who was acting unruly, cursing and fighting with other fans. When they tried to remove her, she resisted, at one point grabbing onto the pole on the steps and refusing to leave.

Finally, four officers were able to tear her away and lift Freitas onto their shoulders. Her arms and legs unrestrained, Freitas began flailing her hands, eventually striking Ross in the left eye with a backhand after missing her attempted first slap. Ross responded immediately with a straight right hand.

The report says Ross struck Freitas in the face with an open hand and that she wasn’t injured. That’s hard to tell in the widely watched cellphone video taken by Eric Argueta, another fan in the stands. The video shows Freitas striking Ross, him responding immediately and Freitas’ head snapping backward before she collapses. But the back of the officer’s head blocks a clear view into whether the strike was with his fist or open-handed.

The department’s Internal Affairs office never opened an investigation into Ross’s actions because no one, including Freitas, filed a complaint. The Herald made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Freitas, including visiting her home in Broward County.

She was arrested the night of her confrontation with Ross and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct. Ross, who has been with the department since 1999, works in the warrants bureau. His evaluations over the years have ranged from good to excellent.

Baez’s decision was in conflict with the views of some outside use-of-force experts who said Freitas should have been restrained before the officers lifted her up. They also said an officer throwing a punch is almost always a bad idea that results in an injured suspect or the cop hurting his hand.

Perez, the police director, said department policy is to handcuff or restrain the suspect right way, but circumstances the night of the game with 63,000 fans and Freitas physically refusing orders, warranted a different response.

"In this case it did stop her," said the director. "But we don’t encourage anyone to punch someone in the face."

Comments
Five times Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law sparked controversy

Five times Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law sparked controversy

Florida’s controversial self defense law is in the news again.The killing of Markeis McGlockton, who was shot by another man after the two argued over a parking space on Thursday, is just the most recent in a long succession of controversies over the...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Community holds vigil in Clearwater for man killed in parking lot dispute, protests ‘stand your ground’

Community holds vigil in Clearwater for man killed in parking lot dispute, protests ‘stand your ground’

Friends, family and supporters filled the sanctuary at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on Sunday night calling for justice in the death of Markeis McGlockton last week.The vigil and protest, organized by the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas County Branch of the N...
Updated: 10 hours ago
NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

NAACP to hold vigil for man killed in ‘stand your ground’ shooting Thursday

A local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is holding a vigil Sunday for a black man who was killed Thursday in what authorities are calling a "stand your ground" shooting.The vigil for the family of Markeis McGl...
Published: 07/22/18
Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

Duck boat tragedy kills nine members of the same family

BRANSON, Mo. - The Coleman family had initially thought of going on a vacation to Florida for their annual trip, but the drive was too long for some elderly relatives who wanted to join. The Colemans settled on going to Branson, a southwestern Missou...
Published: 07/22/18
Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

Pasco Sheriff’s Office releases names of two killed in apparent murder-suicide Saturday

NEW PORT RICHEY — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office have released the names of two people killed in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide Saturday.At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Alisa Medovich, 23, of Holiday, was shot and killed by Mario Medina...
Published: 07/21/18
Updated: 07/22/18
Tampa police seek driver in fatal Saturday morning hit and run

Tampa police seek driver in fatal Saturday morning hit and run

Tampa police are looking for a motorist who they say killed a man in an early Saturday morning hit and run.About 2 a.m. Saturday, a 38-year-old man was hit by a car travelling east on the 3600 block of E Columbus Dr. in Tampa, according to a Tampa Po...
Published: 07/21/18
4 indicted in Florida shooting death of rapper XXXTentacion

4 indicted in Florida shooting death of rapper XXXTentacion

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Florida grand jury has indicted four men on first-degree murder and armed robbery charges in the shooting death of emerging rap star XXXTentacion. Broward County panel formally charged Dedrick Williams, 22; Michael Boatwrigh...
Published: 07/21/18
Police arrest Dunedin man for shooting pregnant girlfriend, lying about home invasion

Police arrest Dunedin man for shooting pregnant girlfriend, lying about home invasion

DUNEDIN — Authorities on Friday arrested a 19-year-old for shooting his pregnant girlfriend and then lying about a home invasion.Charles Tenpenny was distraught over accidentally shooting his girlfriend, 18-year-old Naomi Rosado, who was 20 weeks pre...
Published: 07/21/18
Hillsborough fire rescue engine hit while responding to another accident

Hillsborough fire rescue engine hit while responding to another accident

HILLSBOROUGH — A car slammed into the back of Hillsborough County fire rescue truck as it was responding to a separate single vehicle accident Saturday morning.The driver of the black Toyota Corolla became trapped inside the vehicle. Firefighters fro...
Published: 07/21/18
Hillsborough detention deputy charged with DUI

Hillsborough detention deputy charged with DUI

HILLSBOROUGH — A Hillsborough County detention deputy was arrested for driving under the influence early Saturday morning. Jose Cruz, 31, was driving his 2011 Ford Ranger in the McDonald’s parking lot at 9870 301 Highway South. Deputies were alerted ...
Published: 07/21/18