A chase through Miami-Dade and Broward counties ends with the suspect being beaten while cameras roll. Three officers have been placed on administrative leave.
Three Miami-Dade police officers were relieved of duty after they were seen on television throwing a robbery suspect to the ground and punching and kicking him in the head Wednesday afternoon after a car chase.
"We saw some actions that concerned us," said Frank Boni, assistant director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, of the incident that began when Jerome McCellion, 19, of Delray Beach, allegedly flashed a gun at an officer. The black Cadillac sport utility vehicle's license number matched a partial number from a vehicle believed to have been used in a robbery, Boni said.
The chase began in Miami-Dade County then headed north into Broward County. Officers from several departments, including Miami-Dade, Hallandale Beach and Broward, participated.
During the chase, McCellion apparently fired a shot at a pursuing Miramar police car, piercing its windshield. No officers were hit by the bullet, but an officer from another agency was struck by the suspect's vehicle in a parking lot and suffered minor hand injuries.
Miami television stations showed live helicopter shots of the SUV speeding down busy streets and through residential neighborhoods.
The SUV swerved through traffic, across parking lots and up on sidewalks, narrowly missing several cars and pedestrians before its rear end was clipped by another car.
McCellion drove into a residential neighborhood, where he jumped out of the moving SUV and over a fence into a back yard. The vehicle continued down the street, crashing into a front yard.
Television shots showed a Miami-Dade officer throwing the suspect face down to the ground and punching him three times in the head.
A second officer then ran up and kicked McClellion at least twice. A third appeared to deliver an additional kick before a swarm of officers arrived, handcuffed McCellion and led him away. McCellion was taken to Broward County Jail. Charges were pending late Wednesday.
Boni said the videotape showed there was enough force used in subduing McCellion to spark an investigation.
"If action is warranted, we'll take it," Boni said.
Put on administrative leave were Officers Mike Ramirez, Nathan Johnston and Chris Johnson.
Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas issued a memo to Boni saying he was troubled by the images and "what initially appears to be unnecessary force used by some officers," but pleased that the matter was being investigated.
Penelas also said he agreed with the decision to reassign the three officers.