A Miami-area musician captured the moment a police officer smacked his phone from his hand as he attempted to record his tense encounter with police outside his apartment this week.
Emanuel David Williams, 30, is now speaking out about the incident and believes the officers who arrested him went a step too far.
“Last night I was assaulted by 3 #Miami police officers in front of my own home,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post Sunday, adding, “These thugs knocked my phone out of my hand, threw me to the ground and punched me repeatedly in the head.”
The incident unfolded early Saturday in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood, where the musician says he was strong-armed by a trio of cops after taking out his cellphone to record them. The officers, identified only by their last names of Allen, Hernandez, and Gonzalez, were there because Williams’ ex-girlfriend had called for assistance retrieving some of her things from their apartment, according to The Miami New Times, citing a police report.
Video of the incident posted online begins with Williams asking officers why they’re in his face, to which one of them responds, “because we can be!” Another officer identified as “Gonzalez” grows increasingly agitated as Williams continues filming.
“Sir, if you put that phone in my face again, we’re gonna have a problem,” he warns, ordering Williams to step back. “Take the phone away from my face.”
Officers then order the man across the street, at one point threatening him with jail time as they follow him to the sidewalk. Williams is still recording their every move when suddenly one of the cops swats the phone from his hand, causing it to land with the camera facing upward.
“Do not put the phone in my face again, you understand!” Gonzalez shouts in a second clip after swatting the device. The recording captures the three officers yanking Williams from all sides, then shoving him against fence.
“Oh my God!” Williams exclaims.
Police are heard ordering the Miami man to the ground and shouting at him to “stop resisting.” Williams insists he’s being compliant and can be heard repeatedly telling officers he can’t breathe.
He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence — both misdemeanors.
Williams told the New Times he was grateful his phone still managed to capture more of the incident.
“I was shocked my phone even picked up the part after they knocked it out of my hand,” he said. “I only got my phone back after I got out of jail. I didn’t think my phone caught all that.”
In their report, police painted Williams as the aggressor, saying he arrived to the scene “behaving belligerently and causing a disturbance.” They don’t say Williams ever acted aggressively toward them. Rather, officer Gonzalez said he arrested the musician for invading his space with his cellphone.
“The defendant then continued to place his cellphone within very close proximity of my face, once again breaching the distance within my reactionary gap, at which point I advised the defendant that he was under arrest, at which point I grabbed the defendant by the arm and attempted to directed him to the ground to effect the arrest,” the officer wrote.
Gonzalez further accused Williams of resisting arrest and said he only got into the police car “after another struggle.”
Miami Police officials addressed the incident in a statement this week, saying they’ve launched a formal investigation.
“The City of Miami Police Department is aware of a cellular phone video surfacing on social media showing our uniformed officers involved in an arrest with a suspect who was filming,” department spokeswoman Kellia Fallat said. “Our Internal Affairs Section is also aware and investigating the circumstances that led up to the video.”
Watch more in the videos below.