What to Know
- 30-year-old Jordy Yanes Martel, a former Miami Gardens police officer, turned himself in to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Thursday
- Martel was working off-duty security at a strip club when he allegedly forced a Black woman out of her car, kneeled on her neck and tased her
- Authorities say Martel misrepresented the incident in an affidavit, and he now faces charges of official misconduct and battery
A former Miami Gardens police officer was charged Thursday with battery and misconduct for allegedly tasing a Black woman's stomach while he pressed his knee to her neck outside a Miami-area strip club, and then misrepresenting the incident in his police report.
30-year-old Jordy Yanes Martel turned himself in to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Miami office Thursday morning. He faces two counts of official misconduct and four counts of battery.
At a news conference later in the afternoon, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle presented two videos as evidence of Martel's wrongdoings, going into the department's investigation of the the incident in thorough detail.
Fernandez Rundle said that the incident took place on January 14th, outside Tootsie's Cabaret on 183rd Street in Miami.
Yanes Martel, at the time a Miami Gardens police officer, was working security off-duty when the manager of the club asked him to give a verbal trespass warning to a woman who had allegedly thrown a tip at a waitress.
The woman was in her vehicle trying to leave the club when Martel approached her and told her to get out of the car and walk towards his police vehicle.
The woman refused to walk to the police car and instead offered to drive over. According to FDLE's investigation, "while (Martel) had no legal authority to detain the victim, he forcibly removed her from her vehicle."
Martel proceeded to force the woman down to the ground and kneel on her neck. A news release also noted that "while officers had control over both the victims' arms, Martel tased the victim twice on the stomach."
The woman suffered numerous cuts and bruises, as well as abrasions on her stomach from the taser.
Video evidence contradicts arrest report
At the news conference, Fernandez Rundle stressed that video evidence of the incident contradicts Martel's retelling of the event in the arrest report. Two videos were played for the audience to watch, one from the ex officer's body cam and one from a woman who had been in the car with the victim.
"The two videos you are about to see call into truthfulness a filed affidavit that was used to criminally charge (the victim)," Fernandez-Rundle said.
In the body cam footage, which was shown first, Martel can be heard informing the woman of the violation and instructing her to his police vehicle so that they can "do the trespassing."
"We're gonna go to my car, we're gonna do the trespassing, and then you'll be free to go," he can be heard saying.
"I'll drive there," the woman offers. Martel refutes her offer, and again instructs her to exit her car and walk to his vehicle. "I paid for everything, I don't understand," the woman can be heard saying as she repeatedly refuses to exit her car.
"We're not gonna do the back and forth- you're either gonna out with me and we do the trespass, or you're gonna get arrested. That's what's gonna happen," Yandel can then be heard saying.
He again commands her to come out of her car, and she says she is going to start filming. "Go ahead," he tells her, noting that his body camera has been turned on since the start of the conversation.
At that point, he reaches his arm into the car. "Are you crazy? You can't reach in my car!" the woman can be heard exclaiming.
Tensions escalate, and struggling and expletives can be heard as the ex officer opens the woman's door and forces her to the ground. "You're gonna be tased. You're gonna get tased," Yandel repeats several times, and then loud shrills can be heard.
The video also appears to show Yandel's knee pressed against the woman's neck, while multiple other officers hold her down.
In the second video, which was filmed by the woman who was in the car with the victim, the woman can be heard yelling "Why are y'all tasing her?" before a man turns to her and asks her to delete the video.
"I don't know if you heard that at the end, the last gentleman there says 'Can you delete that please,'" Rundle said, making a point to ensure the audience of reporters had heard the man's words. It is unclear who the man was, an officer or an employee of the club.
In Yandel's arrest report following the incident, he wrote that the woman had become "aggressive and purposely malicious." He alleged that she had struck his hand before he was "able to help her out of the vehicle," and that she then began "tensing and kicking, refusing to comply and purposely and maliciously striking me on the right part of my lower lip with a closed fist."
He also said that she continued to kick and punch officers until she was tased and handcuffed. "Videos show that he didn't tell her she was under arrest, instead forcefully removing her from the car," Fernandez-Rundle said at the news conference.
"Martel said the defendant became aggressive, but the video refutes this. Martel was the aggressor when he went into the woman's car without any evidence that she had committed a crime."
Fernandez-Rundle also said video shows that the the woman was not kicking officers. The charges that were filed against the woman that night have been dropped.
Miami Gardens Mayor: "Family doesn't do this"
Martel has been booked into the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on $6,000 bond. The investigation will be prosecuted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
It wasn't immediately clear if he has a lawyer to represent him.
"By filing these charges today, we are stating that these actions are just plain wrong," Fernandez Rundle said.
"This is wrong. Just plain, senselessly wrong," she repeated as she pointed to pictures of the woman on the floor, with Yandel's knee pressed to her neck.
“We cannot, and will not, tolerate such actions in this community, just as we will not tolerate the victimization of the truth in our search for justice.”
FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker added in a news release, “It is so important that allegations of excessive use of force in law enforcement are fully investigated, not only for the betterment of the community, but also for those law enforcement officers dedicated to public service and helping others."
The charges were announced exactly one month after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, during which one officer held his knee to Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes.
Miami Gardens' Mayor Oliver Gilbert was also present at FDLE's news conference Thursday afternoon. "I'm here to affirm the chief's decision to terminate him, because the the operative word is former Miami Gardens police officer," he said.
"And to let everybody know that some things just aren't gonna be acceptable. We talk to them all the time about being part of a greater Miami Gardens family," Gilbert said.
"Family doesn't do this."