MIAMI (CBS Chicago/CBS Miami) — A video posted on social media shows a woman hit in the face by an officer at Miami International Airport.
We have now learned that the woman was hoping to catch a flight to Chicago before the incident.
As CBS 2’s Vi Nguyen reported Thursday, the woman was supposed to arrive at O’Hare International Airport Wednesday night. But police said she showed up late to her gate in Miami, and American Airlines would not let her board.
That was when the trouble began, Miami-Dade police said.
Video shows a Miami-Dade officer punching the woman – Paris Anderson, 21 – in the face on Tuesday night. What the video does not show is what happened just moments before officers arrived at the airport.
According to a police report, Anderson became upset after learning the next available flight to Chicago would not be until the next morning.
An employee told police that Anderson went behind the counter at the gate to grab her boarding pass. Employees told her she was not allowed behind the counter, and at that point, employees said she began to threaten and curse them.
Officers showed up, telling Anderson to grab her stuff so they could escort her out.
The police report said Anderson “became belligerent and began to yell obscenities, and said, “I should go over there and punch him in the face” – referring to the employee behind the rebooking counter.
The officer again told Anderson to grab her stuff so they could escort her. But the same officer said in the report that Anderson aggressively approached him – violating his personal space, bumping him with her body, and hitting him in the chin, before yelling, “What are you going to do?”
The video shows Anderson face-to-face with the officer, and then seconds later, Officer Anthony Rodriguez hits her in the face. She then falls to the ground.
Legal documents say Anderson was taken to the floor, where she was taken into custody.
Police said Anderson was continuously yelling and turning back towards the officers as she was taken to the police car.
Additionally, police said, that the arresting “officer felt spittle emanating from Ms. Anderson’s mouth. Ms. Anderson was not wearing a face covering as she continued to turn around and yell, additional spittle came into the direction of the officers.”
The arrest report said the officer needed to forcibly grab her by the hair and keep her face pointing forward, in an effort to control her from continuing to spit in the area of the officers.
The report goes on to say that Anderson began to spit all over the protective shield and the backseat of the patrol car.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was called after Anderson complained of shortness of breath upon arrival at the police station, but Anderson refused treatment.
Anderson was transported to the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami, CBS Miami reported.
Now the focus has turned on Officer Rodriguez’s use of force, for which Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez apologized.
“Look, when I first saw it, obviously it was uncalled for and I need apologize, we need to apologize to the lady that was struck by the officer. Miami-Dade County deeply apologizes for that,” said Mayor Gimenez. “The actions of the officer excessive use of force, cannot be condoned and swift action will be taken against this officer.”
The president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association said Rodriguez blames Anderson for being “very aggressive.”
“Obviously, she was very aggressive. The officer takes a couple of steps back, she walks into him and walks into this face and does a diversionary strike and he takes her into custody. It was an open-handed slap. If it was a punch, I don’t believe she would have been standing,” said Steadman Stahl, president of South Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez said he “shocked and angered by a body cam video.” As a result, he ordered an investigation into Officer Rodriguez, while relieving him of duty.
It took less than a day for Ramirez to announce plans to terminate Rodriguez’s employment with the department. He released the following statement:
“As a result of an administrative investigation into the officer’s conduct during this incident; it is my intent to proceed with the termination of the involved officer’s employment with the Miami-Dade Police Department. The administrative process to proceed with termination has been initiated.
“The MDPD holds itself accountable for its actions, and this is just another example of our commitment to do just that.”
The officer had not been fired as of Thursday afternoon, but the department was moving forward with the termination process, Miami-Dade Police told CBS 2.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office public corruption unit is on the case.
“I am angered when I see abusive or improper conduct by a police officer,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle.
Anderson was charged with disorderly conduct and battery of a police officer. She was out of jail Thursday, but we have no idea whether she is still headed to Chicago and why she was planning to come to Chicago.