Police disperse ‘unruly’ crowd of spring breakers in Miami Beach
Law enforcement dispersed an “unruly” crowd of spring breakers in Miami Beach, Fla., on Friday evening by shooting pepper balls after a group gathered while officers made an arrest.
The Miami Beach Police Department said on Twitter that its officers responded to “very large crowds” smoking cannabis and carrying open containers before being “forced to utilize pepper balls to disperse members of the crowd who were disorderly and surrounding officers.”
The department said several people were detained, and two officers were injured and taken to the hospital. The two hospitalized officers were released Saturday but remained off-duty because of their injuries, according to a statement obtained by The Hill.
Several subjects have been detained. Two officers were injured and have been transported to the hospital.
— Miami Beach Police (@MiamiBeachPD) March 13, 2021
According to a police report, the situation began when officers encountered a crown of more than 200 people blocking an intersection. Officers tried to break up the crowd, but James Harrison, 19, of New York, began yelling profanities at authorities and pushed an officer, the police report said.
Police said the officers were “greatly outnumbered” so they fired pepper balls “due to the large, aggressive, unruly crowd and the immediate posing threats to officer safety.”
Harrison allegedly grabbed one of the officer’s collars, prompting an officer to body-slam him into the ground to release his grip on the collar. The New York man responded by kicking as one officer hit him in the chest and another kneed him in the shoulder.
Bystander video shared by a WSVN 7 News reporter captured part of the incident.
Rough Spring Break Friday night on #MiamiBeach. This just happened at 8th & Ocean Dr. It appears to show a bodyslam takedown as police try to control a crowd. Witnesses who sent me this video say cops were forced to deploy pepper spray which caused a stampede. @wsvn #Exclusive pic.twitter.com/s8gS3Silxe
— Sheldon Fox-7 News (@fox_sheldon) March 13, 2021
Harrison was eventually arrested and charged with battery on a police officer, resisting an officer with violence, inciting a riot and disorderly conduct.
“It should be noted that defendant Harrison’s actions made the crowd extremely aggressive towards officers, posing a clear threat to their safety, due to the large number of unruly subjects present,” the police report said.
Law enforcement had expected large gatherings for spring break this month. Over the past week, police made 119 arrests, seized 13 guns and issued 866 traffic citations.
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