A video showing an apparently unprovoked Florida cop sucker-punching an unarmed Black man earlier this month was more than just shocking; it also served as proof that the on-duty officer lied about the violent confrontation.
The fictional version told by Officer Adriel Dominguez began to unravel when a fellow officer breached the blue wall of silence by giving the Miami Herald footage of the encounter on Dec. 3. Dominguez was relieved of patrol duties while the police department was conducting an internal investigation and state prosecutors reviewed the case that left Lowell Poitier unconscious, the Herald reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the officer who came forward with the video, Frederick Dominguez, who’s not related to Adriel Dominguez, has demanded whistle-blower protection from his fellow officers.
On that fateful date, police officers responded to a call about a disruptive man at a South Beach restaurant. On a police report, Adriel Dominguez wrote that Poitier, 35, clenched his fist and took a fighting stance in the encounter. Fearing for his life, the officer said he punched Poitier.
However, the video didn’t show any of that. It instead appeared to show the officer grabbing Poitier and knocking him out. The Black man, who suffered a cut lip and other minor injuries, ended up being charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s outrageous behavior. It’s an assault in broad daylight. He clearly did not take a fighting stance or clench his fist to fight the officer like it says in the report,” stated Michael Pizzi, the attorney representing Frederick Dominguez.
The police report claimed that Poitier called the officers “crackers” and appeared defiant. He allegedly said, “what, what,” and made a fist, as he got ready to assault Dominguez. But the officer, obviously lying, said he struck first in self-defense.
After obtaining a copy of the video, Frederick Dominguez noticed the clear contradictions between what appeared in the footage and what Adriel Dominguez alleged in his report.
The investigation could reach high up the law enforcement ladder. Police commanders should have known about the incident but failed to act. Officers are required to submit their body cameras at the end of each shift, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said. Senior officers must review any footage that includes the use of force, yet they remained silent if they saw it. Oates claimed that he was made aware of the video on Wednesday morning, more than a week after Poitier was assaulted.
“This is obviously a very serious matter,” Oates said.
Still, the powerful police union has the back of Officer Adriel Dominguez and other any officer in the line of fire. It remained to be seen if any of them will ultimately get punished.