A cell phone video of a Miami police officer arresting a Black teen and then beating him several times in the back of a squad car went viral, but the woman who posted the video for her friend has now become a target of the Miami police union.
The situation began as Shenitria Blocker was filming police during an arrest in Miami on Thursday afternoon.
The 47-second-long footage begins with officers standing around a dark car as a Black Miami police officer escorts a handcuffed suspect, a Black teen, over to the squad car. The officer lets the teen get in and, at the 37-second mark, appears to suddenly punch him several times before leaping on top of the teen through the back passenger door.
Then, as someone appears to swat away the woman’s phone camera, the picture goes fuzzy and she can be heard saying, “Oh! Don’t touch my phone baby, move.” Then the video ends.
“That was the officer trying to grab my phone,” Blocker told ABC affiliate WPLG. “He snatched my arm, so I snatched back.”
Police told her to delete the video or be arrested. She didn’t delete the footage, however, and her friend, Marilyn Smith, posted it online. It quickly went viral, prompting a police investigation.
“We have seen the video, and we have launched a full Internal Affairs investigation into the matter,” Miami Police Major Delrish Moss told the Miami Herald.
The officer involved in the video, whose name has not been released, has been relieved of his gun, badge and duties, as the investigation is pending.
However, Marilyn Smith has become a person of interest to the Miami Fraternal Order of Police since the video was posted.
The union issued a statement that said, “social media has placed a very negative tone on law enforcement nationwide,” and that the officer involved was “protecting our community.”
The statement then went on to criticize Smith, who they believed had recorded the video. It also highlighted screenshots of Smith’s Facebook page and accused her of posting photos of herself with men who have handguns.
“It seems that no one cares to address this,” the union’s president, Lieutenant Javier Ortiz, said in the statement.
“Social media has focused so much on #blacklifematters/alllifematters campaigns, yet nobody targets the root of the problem our community faced today.”
Recording police encounters is not illegal, however, and a police officer cannot demand that a person delete a video.
It is not the first time that those involved in sharing video footage of police brutality have become targets themselves. Ramsey Orta, who recorded a New York police officer using a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner, a Black man from Staten Island, has been harassed by police as well.