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Weekend Beach Melee - Caught On Tape

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March 29, 2011 By Carlos Miller in Miami: Local News  | 43 Comments

The Youtube video shows a Miami Beach police officer struggling to detain a woman half his size as a boisterous crowd gathers around.

Lt. Douglas Simon body slams the woman on the sand, sparking shouts of outrage from the growing crowd.

Meanwhile, a security guard is struggling to detain a man on the sand, putting him in what appears to be an illegal chokehold.

This prompts three men in the crowd to approach the guard with shouts of “you’re killing him,” ordering the guard to loosen his grip on the man.

Simon orders the men to back off from the unnamed security guard, who ends up loosening his chokehold grip on the man he is detaining.

More cops eventually arrive on the scene to place the two detainees in handcuffs.

Simon then rushes into the crowd and grabs a man in a New York Yankees cap to arrest him, one of the three men who had approached the security guard during the chokehold.

image
This type of chokehold has been banned in many police departments across the country.

Questionable felony charges

Abelardo Antonio Soto, 29, was charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer with violence, felonies which can send him to prison for several years.

Police claim he tossed sand at Simon as he struggled with the woman, inciting the crowd. Police also claim he attacked Simon with a weapon, drawing a gash to the officer’s forehead.

None of this is supported by the videos, including the one above and the four below.

In fact, the only evidence on video that anybody was tossing sand comes in around the 1:05 mark in the second video and the sand is coming from the other direction from where Soto was standing.

And the sand falls harmlessly without anybody seeming to notice.

Soto can be heard yelling “that’s fucked up” after Simon body slams the woman, but many others were also yelling.

Questionable chokehold

If anything, there is strong evidence against the security guard for using a chokehold that has been banned by many police departments across the country because it can be lethal.

image
Three men approach the security guard to tell him to loosen his chokehold.

Some police departments allow chokeholds only if they apply pressure to both sides of the neck, leaving the center of the neck untouched as officers demonstrate in this video.

The security guard had his forearm pressed tightly across the man’s neck, using his second hand to tighten his grip.

This is when the three men, including Soto, approached him, telling him to loosen his grip.

The woman who was body slammed is Sara Greenback, a 25-year-old woman who was kicked out of a Swedish House Mafia concert for “unruly behavior,” according to The Miami Herald.

As she was walking away, a security guard flagged down Simon to tell him about Greenback’s alleged misdeeds inside the concert.

Police said she took off running, so Simon had to chase her down in his ATV and body slam her. She was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.

It is not clear what offenses the man in the chokehold committed but if he was also kicked out of the concert for unruly behavior, then they both should have been left alone as they were already out of the concert.

Police justify force

Miami Beach police on Tuesday defended Simon in how he body slammed Greenback. But this is the same department that defended a cop after he killed two unarmed men within one week in 2009. It was only until Adam Tavss was found to have marijuana in his system that he had to resign.

There are still many unanswered questions in the weekend incident involving Simon and many unsupported claims by police.

However, there were many cameras recording what took place, so hopefully there will be more videos posted on Youtube in the coming days.

Because without solid evidence of Soto’s innocence, he will most likely be convicted on Simon’s word alone.

This one show the beginning of the melee.

Related Categories: Miami: Local News,

Carlos Miller is a featured writer at Miami Beach 411. He also operates Photography is Not a Crime, a blog about photographer rights, New Media and First Amendment issues.

See more articles by Carlos Miller.

See more articles by Carlos Miller

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43 Comments on

"Weekend Beach Melee - Caught On Tape"

Gus says:

That was no illegal chokehold, Carlos. From what I saw, the guard was properly detaining the suspect, and treating him with as much respect as possible, in a situation like that. The guard never locked down on the suspect. The guard never forced the suspect submit. The guard acted professional, to me.

When we discussed this story, it was supposed to be about what a wild and crazy weekend we had in South Beach. We discussed nothing about the police misbehaving.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 6:50 AM

Freddy says:

I gotta agree with Gus on this one. The detainee was, in fact, carrying out a conversation with people in the crowd, this demonstrates his airway was fine. He was resisting arrest and had a means of egress—namely the ocean.

As far as the young lady, is concerned, she clearly was going into the water and, if you believe the Miami Herald allegation that she was tripping on acid, she was not only a danger to others, but also herself.

Thank goodness we live in a country where such events can be open to discussion and thank goodness we have people like Carlos Miller safeguarding our constitutional rights!

But in this case, given the total situation, I think law enforcement, in a potentially explosive situation, acted firmly, but reasonably.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 7:55 AM

elvez says:

The abovecomments do not address the possible false information or lies in the police report leading me to believe they were left by cops. Also, I dont see much wrong here except that the cop who body slammed that woman must be a puss if that’s how he needs to gain control.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 8:33 AM

Svend says:

Situations like this are extremely difficult to sort out. I empathize with MBPD, though am completely unfamiliar with the law as it relates to chokeholds etc.

Now, I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon (I am one) but I’ve noticed a strong deterioration in civility in and around the Collins/Washington/Beach area over the past year. Am I alone in this observation?

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 9:35 AM

EdinMiami says:

Actually Gus you are wrong.  At the 4 second mark, the right forearm is across the windpipe with the right hand locked into the left inner elbow.  The left arm is simultaneously being used to apply pressure from the front and the back.  The left hand applies pressure forward while the left arm digs the right forearm into the throat.  Whether or not he is actually choking him is not relevant.  This hold can kill someone.  That result being more likely when used by someone without proper training or lacking in self control. 

Alternatively, the public should stop giving officers a “pass” when forced is used.  Just because you can use force does not mean you should use force.  This is a prime example.  Even if she was being combative, there is no police training on how to properly body slam someone.  Had she landed wrong and been seriously or permanently injured, could anyone really say that the use of force (body slam) was justified in this situation?  No.  And as the video illustrates, the excessive use of force on a woman can very quickly turn a group of “watchers” into a group of angry men who will come to her rescue.  Notice that 3 men came to assist the male while the entire crowd almost lost control when the woman was thrown down.  If officers are incapable of understanding their surroundings, they should be retrained or removed from their position.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 10:08 AM

Carlos Miller says:

Gus,

It’s true that I originally intended to do a weekend wrap-up, but that was before I took a real close look at the videos.

I also believe that is important to approach a story with a different angle than the other media outlets instead rehashing what they have already stated.

The first time I saw the video I was focusing on the same thing everybody else was focusing on, the way the cop body slammed the woman.

But last night when I really started looking at the videos, I couldn’t help but wonder about the chokehold. I’ve written about police chokehold policy when I worked at The Arizona Republic because the Phoenix PD banned them after a suspect died.

They used to be widespread among police departments, but now not so much because of the potential to kill suspects.

I also wondered why it was so important to detain the man and the woman if all they had done was get kicked out of a concert for being “unruly.”

It seems to me that once they get kicked out, the problem is solved unless they are fighting or creating more havoc outside, which wasn’t the case here.

I also wondered why did the cop have such a hard time putting the handcuffs on the woman. Yes, she was squirmy, but he was twice her size.

I can understand the cop’s concern with the chanting crowd. You never know where that can go. But body slamming a woman doesn’t do much to quell a chanting crowd.

But what really bothered me about these videos is there was absolutely no evidence that Soto threw sand at the cop or attacked him with a weapon.

Perhaps he did before the videos started rolling, so hopefully we will see more videos in the future because it was obvious plenty of people had cameras.

I can sympathize with the cop trying to maintain order in what may turn into a hostile environment, but I can’t ignore possible false charges, especially ones that can send a man to prison for several years.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 10:12 AM

Gus says:

Carlos, I watched the chokehold, again. There was no abuse of power.

This would have been a great time for you to show everyone that you’re a fair and balanced reporter, instead of the boy who cried wolf.

If you cry foul every time you see the police arresting someone, you lose creditability.

Matt Meltzer can act like a one-sided jerk, but I hold you to a higher level.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 10:50 AM

Carlos Miller says:

There was a complete abuse of power. That security guard had no right to detain that man. The security guard is hired to oversee the concert, not the public beach.

We owe it to our readers who spend big money to come down to Miami Beach to show them the truth.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 10:56 AM

Svend says:

Carlos, what does the law say? Is it state to state, or federal? Even more local?

That the security guard was on a public beach does present some questions. Private security does not have the right - as far as I know - to detain on public property. Right?

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:06 AM

Christy says:

My question is, was there a big mob (the people near the cop and security who later pulled out their phones) surrounding the one cop *before* the he decided to use force against the two people? If so then it’s possible the cop resorted to such force with the body slam and choke hold to make an example out of them, so the rest of the mob would back away.
Or did the crowd only surround the cop when he resorted to violence? If it’s the later then yes, way to much force used, but either way it was excessive. What about flipping the choke hold guy on his stomach and holding his hands behind his back, sitting on-top of him?  And if the police got called because there’s a mob situation, where the heck is the back-up?

I think it was OK for the cop to chase down the girl that was thrown out of the concert, but only to see if she was on drugs and in possible need of medical attention. The body slam is horrible and like I said earlier I really hope she sues…and wins.

Miami is starting to look like a part of the US with no rules and no accountability.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:14 AM

Gus says:

Carlos, the truth is, the guard and police officer acted professionally.

Plus, we don’t want readers who get in situations like that at Miami Beach 411.

Our readers are good, law abiding people.

Sven, go talk about your neady laws on Carlos’ other website.

Miami is starting to look like a part of the US with no rules and no accountability.

Christy, I think you say that because Carlos is distorting the picture.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:22 AM

Gus says:

New Rule: Carlos Miller may not post any more stories about hamburgers or police brutality, before speaking with his supervisor.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:26 AM

Svend says:

What’s a neady law?

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:26 AM

Carlos Miller says:

Gus,

Acted professionally? Are you just simply taking the cop’s word that this guy threw sand in his face and attacked him with a weapon even though none of that can be seen in the video?

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:35 AM

Gus says:

Svend, I apologize for my outburst, but do we really want to have a debate about weather or not the guard was allowed on the sand? To me it looks like the guard was assisting the police officer in a time of distress, and he should get a raise for having his colleague’s back.

But the last thing I want to do is stifle the conversation, so if any of you freaks from PINAC have something to say about the law, be my guest…

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:41 AM

Carlos Miller says:

Gus,

Christy came to her conclusion before I even posted this story, judging by her comments on the forum.

The video speaks for itself. I don’t have to distort any picture.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:43 AM

Gus says:

Carlos, I’m saying everything I saw in the video shows the guard and police acted professionally. Heck, the two guys could be in a police instructional video, and the police officer and the lady look like they’re dancing at times.

You distorted the story.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:45 AM

Carlos Miller says:

Instructional video? The cop wasn’t even able to handcuff her even after body slamming her and struggling with her for two minutes. He’s probably the laughing stock of the police department right now.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:48 AM

Svend says:

What’s PINAC? You mean PNAC? Anyways, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:53 AM

Gus says:

No, I’m saying the two guys on the sand could be in an instructional video.

The way it looked to me, the reason it took the officer so long to handcuff the lady was because he felt bad for throwing her into the sand, and took his time to show her some respect and/or not escalate the situation with the crowd.

I guess the police officer could be in an instructional video, too, about how to react when you make a mistake and use too much force, with a lady in front of an angry mob on the beach.

PINAC is the acronym for Carlos’ other website on pixiq.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 11:58 AM

Carlos Miller says:

I don’t think Svend is a PINAC reader. Seems like he is a beach resident that somehow found himself here.

PINAC is Photography is Not a Crime. You can check it out by clicking on my name.

What is PNAC? Project for the New American Century?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Definitely not PINAC.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 12:07 PM

EdinMiami says:

Gus you clearly have an agenda here.  It is also clear you know nothing of police procedure.  Either you are ignorant of both the law and police procedure, are trolling, or have some other motive for attempting to spin this incident in a way which clearly does not comport with the video.

Which isn’t to say that the officer or security guard should be fired or fined, but that this doesn’t even come close to the standards set out in training much less a training video.

You are entitled to your opinion on the facts.  You just aren’t entitled to make up the facts.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 12:16 PM

Svend says:

Never heard of PINAC. Yes, I am a Beach resident. Carlos, you’re the same Carlos I heard on Sibel Edmond’s Boiling Frogs podcast?

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 12:25 PM

Jess says:

Forgive me for wading in to such a high topic for debate. But I also think the police did not use excessive force and were just trying to control the situation, including two people under arrest and a crowd of very hyped up angry people. They did not have any back up at that point.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 12:30 PM

Carlos Miller says:

Yes, that was me. Last August.

Show link

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 12:30 PM

Travis says:

Gus says to Carlos (in various comments above),
  Carlos, the truth is, the guard and police officer acted professionally.
  Carlos, I’m saying everything I saw in the video shows the guard and police acted professionally.
  If you cry foul every time you see the police arresting someone, you lose creditability.

Gus is finally admits the truth when he says the following to Carlos.
  I guess the police officer could be in an instructional video, too, about how to react when you make a mistake and use too much force with a lady in front of an angry mob on the beach.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 1:45 PM

Gus says:

Ed, I’m the owner of Miami Beach 411. I do have an agenda for accurate reporting.

If Carlos would have suggested this angle, I would have said no way, after watching the tape. However, if Carlos would have written what we originally discussed and the comments naturally questioned abuse, I would have stayed out of it, but for Carlos’ story to be so one-sided, it was important to say how I really felt.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 1:50 PM

Gus says:

Travis, I stand behind everything you said I said.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 1:52 PM

EdinMiami says:

“How” you feel is not the issue.  The issue is (1) making statements as fact without backing it up (2) making statements inferring that you have knowledge when you don’t.

So you are the owner, great.  But if Carlos has to be “accurate” shouldn’t you hold yourself to a standard as well?  Your statements about what the video shows are at best, opinion and at worst, disingenuous.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 2:17 PM

Carlos Miller says:

EdinMiami,

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you a former cop? You’ve gone through the police academy, haven’t you?

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 2:24 PM

EdinMiami says:

Yes to both.  But imo, and this goes back to my original point, it does not take particularized knowledge or training to understand these “officers” are not handling the situation correctly.  And, even if everything they are doing is “legal”, they nearly started a riot by using what most people would consider excessive force on a woman.  If a riot would have started the officer would have had the legal authority to open fire on the crowd. 

At any rate, the video speaks for itself.  Thanks for spreading the word (Carlos and Gus).

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 4:13 PM

Carlos Miller says:

I just added another video to the bottom of the story that shows the incident from the very beginning.

The cop was trying to detain the girl and the guy in the blue was trying to interfere, so the security guard stepped in and wrestled him to the ground.

At no point did Soto, the guy in white shirt and NY Yankees cap, throw sand on the cop or assault him with a weapon.

The video shows the scene before Soto was even there. In fact, there was nobody there at the time except the cop, the security guard and the girl and guy who were detained.

The guy in the blue did try to interfere, so that was wrong on his part. The woman was resisting mildly. I say mildly because at one point, she sat on her knees holding her hands up in peace signs.

The cop was just unable to handcuff her both arms. Really lackadaisical police efforts on his part. He seemed to be more concerned with the crowd around him than the girl.

But she wasn’t resisting that hard. It seemed as if he was afraid to get his knees sandy, so he was trying to handcuff her while crouching down.

And the longer she went without being handcuffed, the larger and rowdier the crowd got.

The security guard was trying to keep the guy in blue from interfering, so I’ll give him that. But I don’t think he is properly trained to give a chokehold. That could have ended ugly if it weren’t for those people who told him to loosen his grip.

The most appalling detail in all these videos is the lack of evidence that Soto attacked the cop.

That did not happen. The cop clearly lied about this. He was probably frustrated at his inability to control the girl and took it out on the guy when he knew his backup was there.

I not only believe that charges against Soto will be dropped, but that he has a strong case to sue the police department.

In all the above videos, we are able to piece together everything that happened and not once did Soto come near the cop.

If it wasn’t for that fact, then I could just write this off as a lackadaisical cop who was unable to control a girl half his size.

But now I see him as a liar.

Posted on 03/30/2011 at 5:21 PM

Gus says:

Thank you for posting the new video. From my perspective, it makes the officer’s actions with the lady look more justified and less extreme.

From the start, 48 seconds pass, before the officer decided he had to restrain her.

He had two men fighting at his feel, rolling into the water.

She wouldn’t stop wigging out.

The officer had to control what appeared to be an escalating situation, so he threw the intoxicated lady into the soft sand.

The Police are standing by him and say it was justified.

And this talk about throwing sand is silly and doesn’t matter much to me. Plus, we don’t know what happened before the tape started rolling.

But this is beside the point, and has nothing to do with my main complaint, that you distorted the story by giving too much weight to the “Questionable chokehold” angle.

You also forgot to put the story in any kind of perspective for our Miami Beach 411 readers to relate to. It reads too much like something from Photography is Not a Crime. We have different audiences, and should craft our storytelling style as such.

Posted on 03/31/2011 at 6:41 AM

Adrian says:

Gus, if the woman in the video was your wife, would you still think the amount of force used was appropriate?

Posted on 03/31/2011 at 10:22 AM

Christy says:

I think Carlos’ story is important because it sparks a debate and lets people know what happens when you piss off the cops in Miami. I hope everyone who plans on visiting, and partying watches the video and learns how some of the Miami cops behave. Memorial Day is approaching and everyone coming needs to see these videos for their safety.

Jess, as a petite girl who sometimes has back problems I can’t believe you agree with the body slam. What if this girl was roofied by someone, attacked by someone, had negative side effects from whatever drug she may have been on, and it caused her to act the way she did? Which as far as I can see, was just run from the cops chasing her. She should have been offered medical help. And Jess, the cop caused the crowd to form when he used excessive force. Gus, once when I was a kid a fell on the sand, and it hurt!

As for the choke hold, take the front of your hand and lightly press it on against your throat. It hurts at the slightest pressure because your throat curves. All I hope is that the cop was simply holding his arm against the guy’s throat, and only pressing if the guy was getting squirmy. From the video he seemed completely still. If the cop was pressing the whole time then that guy should also sue…and win. That cop needs to go back to the police academy to learn how to properly arrest people.

Posted on 03/31/2011 at 11:42 AM

Christy says:

If this happened in NY or LA and the cops were white and the people getting arrested were black, there would be tons of media attention, and the cops would probably be forced to resign.

Posted on 03/31/2011 at 11:48 AM

Christy says:

I just watched the last video and the cop had plenty of time to handcuff the girl in the traditional way..she was pretty well behaved, and he had her against the car as well as sitting in the sand. Maybe he was having problems with his handcuffs?

Posted on 03/31/2011 at 12:40 PM

Carlos Miller says:

The mainstream media is now getting wind of the real story.

And Miami Beach PD seems to be backtracking on whether or not Soto deserved to be arrested on felony charges.

“MBP released a statement that read: ‘In the regular course of reviewing felony arrest, conducted by the state attorney’s office, in cooperation with our police department, determinations are made as to the charges that frequently may involve the addition, modification or removal of any charges.’”

http://www.wsvn.com/news/articles/local/21003931297440/

Posted on 03/31/2011 at 7:50 PM

Jess says:

Christy, I would not have pissed off the cop to the point he would have had to use any force. Yes I am little so if I was in trouble with the police, I’d just listen to what he had to say and do my best to not escalate the situation.

Posted on 04/01/2011 at 2:39 PM

EdinMiami says:

Jess, you can certainly do that, it’s a choice many would make.  However, you should feel confident that an officer won’t get “pissed off” at the slightest provocation.  Police officers receive training on how to deal with the public.  Use of force is not justified because an officer gets upset, or doesn’t like the way he is being treated by a civilian.  Simply stated there is no use of force doctrine which ALLOWS for an officer to use force because someone is being “difficult”.  The force continuum does allow for force when an officer is met with force or non-compliance with a LAWFUL order.  Even then, the force used against someone cannot be excessive.

It is unfortunate that many people feel, and officers help to instill in us, that they are unable to assert their rights which are guaranteed by the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.  If more people stood up and refused to be bullied, there would be fewer instances of excessive force.  Some will always choose to be “controlled”, but there is another choice.

Posted on 04/01/2011 at 10:41 PM

MarvinMartian says:

Just listening to that POS Soto talk I wanted him arrested. What trash! He was inciting the crowd too I think.

Posted on 04/01/2011 at 11:28 PM

Christy says:

I agree Jess, I would never try to piss off a cop deliberately- no one should. That girl was obviously on drugs and behaving in an unusual way, and the cops should know how to handle that better. It’s so unbelievable to me that he body slammed her when he knew people were recording the incident with their phones.

Here’s another story about a Miami cop using excessive force and killing someone, and it was because the cop wasn’t properly trained.

http://forums.miamibeach411.com/general-discussion/9016-miami-court-rules-miami-cop-responsible-death-innocent-man.html

Posted on 04/02/2011 at 8:28 AM

elke says:

This police in uniform is a coward, I am sure he will not do that if not in uniform even if somebody were f****** his family and the other blan cop as well
they are BS

Posted on 04/07/2011 at 1:58 PM

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