A Miami Beach police officer is under investigation after another officer’s body camera video showed him sucker punching an unarmed black man in the face earlier this month.
The footage, which was leaked by an officer who is now asking for whistle-blower protection, shows Lowell Poitier Jr., a 35-year-old homeless man from Orlando, approaching a group of officers and grabbing something from a menu stand outside the Pelican Hotel on Ocean Drive.
An unidentified voice in the video says “watch yourself, bud” a few times.
Poitier responds with “what, what” before an officer, now identified as Adriel Dominguez, is seen punching the homeless man in the face, knocking him to the ground.
Dominguez has been reassigned from patrol duties while the Miami Beach Police Department’s internal affairs unit investigates, Chief Daniel Oates announced Wednesday.
“This is obviously a very serious matter,” Oates said in a statement. “At my direction, our internal affairs unit immediately launched an investigation. We have also notified the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office. The officer has been relieved of his patrol duties. He will be placed in a non-enforcement assignment until further notice.”
According to a police report of the Dec. 3 incident, Poitier was described as “acting irate, screaming loudly” and cursing at restaurant customers.
The report said Poitier “clenched his fists, took a fighting stance and leaned into” the officer.
Dominguez, “in fear for his safety,” then punched Poitier with a closed fist, the report said.
Poitier was evaluated by paramedics and taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center to be treated for a laceration to his lower lip. He was then arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest without violence and assaulting a police officer.
“Mistreatment of anyone by our police officers is unacceptable,” City Manager Jimmy Morales said in a statement. “I have full faith and confidence in our police department to complete a thorough investigation into this matter to determine what happened.”