MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami police officer has been relieved of duty after he was caught on camera punching a man lying prone on the floor inside a Publix.
The incident happened on April 16th at the Publix in the 1700 block of Biscayne Boulevard.
It started when a man, identified as 58-year-old Willie Barbor, reportedly grabbed some chicken from the deli and was eating it as he walked out of the store without paying.
When the store manager asked him to pay, Barbor replied “(expletive) you, I’m homeless, I don’t have any money,” according to his arrest report.
When Miami police officer Alexander Garcia-Contreras, who was working an extra-duty job at the store, asked Barbor to go with him to the office, he reportedly ignored him and started walking away.
When Garcia-Contreras grabbed Barbor by the arm, police said he tensed up and tried to push him away. That’s when the Garcia-Contreras “re-directed him to the floor and gave him a couple of distractionary strikes to gain the defendant’s compliance,” according to the arrest report.
David Ovalle, with CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, posted a video of the incident on Twitter
Miami cop probed for repeatedly punching homeless man accused of stealing Publix chicken.
Prosecutors, within days, dropped the charges against the homeless man.https://t.co/zgPPS9aBXj
— David Ovalle (@DavidOvalle305) April 29, 2021
Barbor was arrested and charged with theft, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest without violence.
Video of the takedown and subsequent punches went viral on social media.
Miami police said they are aware of the video and released the following statement.
“The Miami Police Department is aware of the incident and has launched an investigation. The involved officer has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation.”