The Slatest

Florida Police Officer Suspended After Putting Black Woman Who Called for Help in Headlock

A screengrab from the video showing the officer pulling the woman down in a headlock

A South Florida police officer has been suspended after a video circulated on social media showing him putting a black woman in a headlock after she called to report a crime, according to local media reports.

Dyma Loving has said she had called 911 on March 5 after getting into an argument with her neighbor, who waved a shotgun at her. She told reporters later that the neighbor had called her and her friend “whores.” She said the two had ignored it at first, but her friend, Adrianna Green, eventually threw a potted plant toward the neighbor’s yard. The neighbor, a white man, then allegedly pulled out a shotgun and said he would “shoot my burnt black-ass face off my neck,” she told the Miami New Times.

When police showed up, they interviewed the two women. One officer, later identified by the department as Alejandro Giraldo, “started interrogating us like we were the suspects,” Loving told the New Times. Loving said she asked him if she could go to her friend’s house to charge her phone and call her children. “He kept telling me I needed to calm down, but I was so scared at that moment,” she told the New Times.

In the video, which was filmed by Green and appears to start after she asks Giraldo to go to her friend’s house, one of the officers can be heard saying, “she needs to be corrected if anything.” Loving, visibly upset, asks the police officers, “Why do I have to be corrected when my life was just threatened and my daughter’s sick? I just want to go to the store to charge my phone.”

Giraldo takes a step toward her. He then seizes her arm and appears to push her toward the fence behind her as Green protests that she hadn’t done anything.

Loving repeatedly tells the officers not to touch her, and as another officer holds her wrists, Giraldo forcefully tries to handcuff her. Loving, though shouting, does not appear to physically resist. Then, Giraldo yanks his arm away, and—as Green repeatedly cries out, “Why are you doing this?”—places her in a headlock and wrestles her to the ground. The three officers then pin her to the ground.

“I just said I wanted to call my kid,” Loving shouts, still pinned to the ground. “My phone was dead. What do you not understand? I got a gun pointed in front of me and my kid is sick. I’m stressed out. I need to go call my children. I need to call my kids. I do not understand.”

Two of the officers then pull Loving forcefully to her feet and drag her to the car. Green then asked another officer, “Why does he have to handle her like that? She didn’t do anything wrong?” The officer replied, “I understand, but when he’s giving her orders and saying she’s being disorderly, she needs to calm down.”

“But she wasn’t being disorderly, though,” Green replies. “It’s just him thinking he can use his authority to do what he wants to do. And that’s not cool. And this shit is going to get dealt with. Y’all not going to keep abusing your authority like that. There’s ways to do it. … He knows she wasn’t trying to get all crazy. She just got a gun pulled on her.”

Loving told NBC News that Giraldo had told her she needed a mental evaluation. She was taken to jail on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and released after posting a $150 bond. An incident report from the encounter described Loving as “acting belligerent and would not obey commands.” The report went on to say she “became further upset, very irate, and uncooperative” and “began to scream at us causing a scene.”

The report also said she “violently” pulled her arm away from the officers and “tensed in front of her not allowing her to be handcuffed behind her back.” The department told NBC that the man who allegedly threatened Loving with a gun was not arrested.

Juan Perez, the director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said on Twitter on Wednesday that his department was investigating the incident and that the Giraldo had been suspended. “I find the actions depicted on the video deeply troubling and in no way reflective of our core values of integrity, respect, service and fairness,” he said.