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Miami Officer Charged After Video Shows His Knee on Woman’s Neck

A former Miami Gardens police officer is facing charges, after a video shows him with his knee on a woman’s neck.

The officer, 30-year-old Yanes Martel, was charged Thursday with two counts of official misconduct and four counts of battery.

He is being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on $6,000 bond.

The charges result from a January incident in which Martel was working off-duty security at an adult club in Miami.

The manager of the club told agents that he asked Martel to give a woman, who was later identified as Safiya Satchell, a trespass warning, after she reoprtedly harassed the wait staff and then threw money at a waitress.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded after an investigation that Martel had “no legal authority to detain the victim,” that he forcibly removed her from her vehicle, and that he took the victim to the ground and subsequently knelt on her neck.

FDLE agents say that Satchell, who is Black, was in her vehicle trying to leave the club, when she was stopped by Martel.

According to the FDLE, Martel told Satchell that she was being trespassed and told her to get out of her car and to walk to his police car.

The report states, “The victim refused to walk to the police car and instead offered to drive over. “

“The two videos you are about to see show a number of different facts and circumstances, which call into question the truthfulness of the filed affidavit that was used to criminally charge Safiya Satchell,” Katherine Fernandez Rundel, Miami-Dade State Attorney said, at a press conference Thursday.

Matel stated that he was working the off-duty detail at the business when he was approached by management in reference to someone trespassing. He added that he was wearing a police uniform displaying “conspicuous police markings.”

The 33-year-old Satchell was being “disorderly and disrespectful toward the members of the staff,” according to the police report. It added that the manager wanted her to leave.

According to the police report, Martel said the woman, “…purposely and maliciously…struck me on the right part of my lower lip with a closed fist ..(she) continued to fight officers by kicking and punching…”

He also stated that he had given Satchell multiple verbal commands to step out of her black Mercedes SUV or “she would be arrested.” The report states that she refused to comply.

When she exited the vehicle, the officer said he redirected her to the ground using a ”leg sweep technique.”

She allegedly continued to kick and punch.

At that point, Martel told Satchell to comply or she would be tased. “The defendant still refused to comply causing me to retrieve my department issued taser at which point I drive stunned her at least 2 times seeking compliance,” according to the report.

Following a short struggle, he was able to put Satchell in handcuffs with help from another officer.

The FDLE says the woman suffered numerous cuts and bruises, in addition to abrasions on her stomach from the taser.

“It is so important that allegations of excessive use of force in law enforcement are fully investigated, not only for the betterment of the community, but also for those law enforcement officers dedicated to public service and helping others,” said FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker. “We appreciate our partnership with State Attorney Kathleen Fernandez Rundle and Miami Gardens PD.”

“Yanes Martel took Ms. Satchell to the ground and once on the ground, Martel allegedly used excessive force by putting his knee on Ms. Satchell’s neck,” Rundle said.

The charges against Satchell have since been dropped.

“We are pleased to have been notified that FDLE and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Public Corruption Unit have taken action against this former officer. It is long overdue for civilian oversight of our cities’ police departments to ensure our officers are not just serving but protecting our community,” according to a statement from Satchell’s attorney, Jonathan Jordan.

“If you’re an officer that has broken policy or acted under color of law with a belief that Black Lives don’t Matter, you ought to be looking over your shoulder because the chickens have finally come home to roost. My client deserves to witness justice be served in this prosecution against this former officer where so many others in her position have not been as fortunate,” Jordan continued.

The investigation will be prosecuted by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office.

Martel is being represented by the South Florida Benevolent Association, who stated that their concern over “recent nationwide events surrounding law enforcement played into today’s actions… Law enforcement officers are not above the law, but they deserve the same rights as any other citizen and, that is innocence until proven guilty.”

He was fired from the police department on June 18 for “egregious behavior,” according to Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel Pratt.