The Miami Police Department is being given high marks Monday for reporting one of their own. Officer Antonio Gonzalez was ultimately suspended and lost a week’s pay after internal affairs decided he used excessive force.
It all stemmed from a call for help from a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who said a man was shooting from his vehicles at cars on Interstate 95 back in January of 2021.
Gonzalez is seen in police body camera video approaching a man in a red shirt and using profanity when ordering him out of his vehicle, weapon drawn.
“Hands on the (expletive) car. Slow. Out of the (expletive) car. I will (expletive) kill you right now (expletive)," Gonzalez is heard saying.
NBC 6 also obtained the internal affairs paperwork which indicated the man arrested was Banny Ruiz. He was on the ground and handcuffed in the video and began a verbal exchange with Gonzalez, saying, “Why are you hitting me like that?"
“Shut the (expletive) up," Gonzalez responds.
The internal affairs report says the official review started because a police supervisor reviewing the body camera video saw Gonzalez putting his knee on Ruiz’s back. The supervisor also heard the banter back and forth between Ruiz and Gonzalez, who is heard telling him to shut up.
"Am I saying something bad for you guys to do this?" Ruiz is heard saying. "Because of the words, you gotta treat me like this?”
The supervisor contacted internal affairs and an investigation was launched. Internal affairs found that Gonzalez did use excessive force, used improper procedure by rushing the vehicle, and not wearing a mask (which was mandatory at the time), and was discourteous.
“Obviously, any type of proactive action among police officers is going to be welcome with open arms. It signals potentially a culture change of sorts,” said Rodney Jacobs, who is with the Miami Citizens Investigative Panel, which is conducting its own inquiry.
He commended Miami Police for stepping up, reporting their own officer, and holding him accountable.
“I do think that this is something good coming from the police department, that they have identified the issue. Obviously, we want to do this more proactively. The bad act had to occur for someone to have reported it,” Jacobs told NBC 6 via Zoom. “I think this signifies good acts going forward the police department is willing and able to identify these situations. “
The citizens panel has another week of work before its results on what happened are final. Miami Police Union President Tommy Reyes told NBC 6 that Gonzalez was suspended from his job and didn’t get paid for a week. Gonzalez also isn’t able to put his name in the hat for a promotion in the next promotion cycle.
Reyes also said the discipline worked as Gonzalez, who had only been on the force for two and a half years when this encounter happened, learned his lesson and is back on the street following the rules.
Ruiz is charged with firing a weapon from his vehicle and has entered a not guilty plea.