MIAMI (AP) — A jury took just over an hour to convict a Miami-Dade officer of felony battery and official misconduct in the rough arrest of a Black woman who had called police for help.
Alejandro Giraldo was suspended after cellphone video circulated on social media in March 2019 showing him tackling Dyma Loving, who had called police to report that a neighbor had pointed a shotgun at her. Police body cameras also recorded the encounter.
“Police officers can put their hands on people to effectuate a lawful arrest. If the arrest is unlawful, they have no more rights than the rest of us. And he sure as heck can’t tackle her to the ground,” said prosecutor Tim VanderGiesen.
Giraldo insisted he acted lawfully in subduing an unruly woman who was interfering with an investigation.
“What you see there isn’t a crime. What you see there is a police officer working the streets, dealing with a situation and maybe his bedside manner was off,” his attorney, Andre Rouviere, told jurors. “When he arrested Dyma Loving, it was after warning after warning that she was being disruptive.”
Giraldo, who is Hispanic, faces up to five years in prison at sentencing. The jury consisted of two Black women, one Hispanic woman and three Hispanic men.
The video sparked outrage in a county where at least nine police officers from four different police agencies are awaiting trial on allegations they battered suspects while on duty, the Miami Herald reported. Three other officers have been acquitted since 2019 in excessive force cases.
The conviction of North Miami police Officer Jonathon Aledda was overturned by an appeals court in February. He had fired his weapon at an autistic man holding a silver toy truck, and hit the man’s caregiver. Prosecutors declined to try the case again.
In Giraldo’s case, video showed him pushing Loving into a fence and then taking her to the ground, where she was handcuffed. Loving was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence. Those charges were later dropped.
The arrest report inaccurately said that Loving was “causing a scene” and was being “uncooperative,” prosecutors said.
Giraldo’s defense attorney countered that it was Loving and another woman at the scene who were out of control.
“We thought that we had established that they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges, but I guess the jury saw it a different way, and we have to accept the jury’s verdict,” Rouviere said after Giraldo was convicted on Thursday.