MIAMI (WSVN) – Cellphone video from inside of a Publix Supermarket in Miami captured the rough arrest of a homeless man accused of taking food without paying for it, but some said the officer who made the arrest used excessive force.
Video from April 16 captured the incident, which happened in the area of Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 17th Street. The video was first obtained by the Miami Herald.
According to City of Miami Police, the homeless man accused of stealing the chicken by eating it inside of the store was confronted by an officer. Their exchange devolved into a beating and arrest inside of the busy supermarket, causing store managers to try to help out.
Those shopping at the time were left horrified.
“Oh, my goodness. That was just– he was just hitting that man in his head,” a woman said after watching the video. “I feel like as a society, we forget that we are human. He is doing something wrong, I guess immoral, but the aggression and the force that was used, things could’ve went differently.”
“It’s the excessive force that he did, all the punching,” a second woman said.
Willie Barber, 58, was arrested on that day for petty theft, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.
“That’s just not right,” a man said after watching the video. “They could have talked to him. They could have handled it a different way. They could have taken it from him, escorted him out or arrested him, whatever they needed to do.”
“It looks like he’s beating him to death for a chicken,” a second man said after watching the video. “I would say [it’s excessive]. I would hate to be the damn chicken or the man.”
One man, who said he was homeless, was standing outside of the supermarket, Wednesday night. He added that he knows Barber.
“I face this stuff everyday,” he said. “I don’t condone the stealing. However, come on, it was a chicken.”
The officer involved in the rough arrest has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation, police said.
7News has reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents police officers in Miami, for comment, but they have not been available for an interview.
7News has also reached out to Publix for comment, but have yet to hear back.
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