Miami, FL – A Miami-Dade police officer who struck a drunk female fan at a Miami Hurricanes game has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
The incident occurred on Nov. 4 at Hard Rock Stadium, according to the Miami Herald, and was ca ptured on cellphone video.
Officer Douglas Ross was working security at the football game between the University of Miami and Virginia Tech, when he and other officers responded to Section 129 for a report of a woman causing a disturbance.
Police said that the woman, Bridget Freitas, 30, was “arguing with stadium patrons and using profanity in a loud boisterous manner,” according to the Sun-Sentinel. Several attempts were made to calm Freitas down, and walk her up the stairwell, but she refused to cooperate, and eventually sat down on the steps, grabbed a pole, and refused to move.
Additional officers were called to assist with removing Freitas, and four officers were able to pry her hands away from the pole.
They picked up the drunk woman and began to walk up the stairs.
Her arms were not restrained, and she began flailing her hands about. Freitas then backhanded Officer Ross in the face.
In response, Officer Ross hit her back.
His supervisor, Sgt. Javier Baez, wrote the use-of-force report, which found the 18-year veteran’s actions to have been within departmental rules. Sgt. Baez’s report also said that Officer Ross struck Freitas with his open hand, and that she said she wasn’t injured.
Juan Perez, Miami-Dade Police Director, said “Did it look pretty? No. But he instinctively reacted to being hit in the face.”
He said that officers don’t distinguish between males and females when throwing a punch, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Director Perez said that department policy is to restrain or handcuff a suspect immediately, but that circumstances in this incident, including a major football game with 63,000 fans present and an uncooperative Freitas, allowed for a different response.
He said, “In this case it did stop her. But we don’t encourage anyone to punch someone in the face.”
An internal affairs investigation by the Miami-Dade Police Department was never opened into the incident because no one, including Freitas, filed a complaint.
Freitas was arrested after assaulting Officer Ross, and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct.
All of the officers working security at the game were in full uniform.
You can see the video of the incident below: