MIAMI — Three South Florida police officers are facing criminal charges in separate incidents. Two were accused of using excessive force during arrests and the other was accused of purposefully shooting a fellow officer with a Taser stun gun.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced the charges Wednesday.
“Excessive force can never be an acceptable foundation for the policing of any community,” Fernandez Rundle said, according to The Associated Press. “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.”
In September 2021, Opa-locka Police Capt. Sergio Perez wounded another officer by shooting them with a Taser training cartridge, an arrest report explains.
Perez reportedly asked a sergeant in the department if they "wanted to be certified to use a new Taser," AP reports. Despite the sergeant repeatedly saying no, Perez fired the weapon and reportedly struck them in the side.
The Taser was loaded with a training cartridge which didn't inflict a shock, but there were still two wounds left on the sergeant's abdomen, the media outlet explains. Those training cartridges are only used to be shot at someone wearing a special training suit.
Perez was not a certified Taser trainer, according to investigators. He faces a misdemeanor battery charge.
In another case from March 2020, authorities say Miami Gardens police officer Javier Castano kicked a subdued man and put his knee on the man's neck which was shown on released body camera footage, AP reports.
Castano was relieved of duty after the incident, CBS Miami reports. He is being charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery.
The last incident involves Miami-Dade police officer Joseph Diaz, who prosecutors say lied on a report after arresting an intoxicated man.
The man told Diaz his home was within walking distance and started to walk away, CBS Miami explains. While walking away, the man is heard on body camera footage calling the officer a derogatory name.
Diaz reportedly calls the man back and arrests him. Footage shows the officer telling the man to get on the ground.
Diaz is charged with felony official misconduct for reportedly "lying on the arrest report as to what the...man was doing," according to CBS Miami. He also faces a misdemeanor charge.
Online court and jail records didn’t list attorneys for the officers.
“As law enforcement officers we are sworn to support, protect and defend the Constitution. It is disheartening when a police officer violates their Oath of Office, this act is without dispute unacceptable," Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez in a statement to CBS Miami.
"Our Internal Affairs Section initiated a thorough investigation into this matter and worked diligently alongside the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. The trust that our community instills on the men and women of the Miami-Dade Police Department will not be taken for granted, it is our duty to protect this great responsibility."
10 Tampa Bay's Courtney Holland contributed to this report.