This case of a Miami police officer getting away with sexual assault shows how difficult it can be to hold authority figures accountable for their crimes.
All charges were dropped against a Miami officer who sexually assaulted a 19-year-old woman. The move came when she fled the county after receiving a call from the officer, who was in jail, and she became terrified of retaliation from law enforcement.
The Miami New Times reported that the incident occurred in January 2016 when the victim was walking home from buying groceries.
Miami Police Officer Alexi Figueroa was creeping behind her in his car before pulling up next to her to ask for her name and phone number. She said she did not have a phone, and Figueroa left her alone for a moment.
He guessed what path she would take and parked his car in the anticipated path. When she walked by, he ordered her into the car, and she obeyed because he was a police officer.
Figueroa then asked her age and if she wanted to be “friends with benefits.” She said she did not know what that meant, but the officer proceeded to molest her. He kissed her lips and groped her breasts under her bra against her will.
After the incident, she immediately told her mother and a friend, and wrote the details of the crime. Her mother called police to report it, and the victim met with police to give a DNA sample a sworn statement. Detectives and prosecutors said her story was credible. Video footage even backed up her details, but it still took about 15 months for prosecutors to bring charges against the criminal officer.
When internal affairs showed Figueroa a picture of his victim, he lied and said he did not recognize her. Upon further questioning and presentation of video evidence, he admitted to the encounter, but changed the details. He claimed she asked to sit in the car and denied asking for her phone number, as well as kissing and groping her.
Video evidence from red light cameras proved Figueroa was lying again, and IA finally substantiated the claims against him on May 24, 2018 – more than 2 years after the assault.
Figueroa had been relieved of duty on Feb 6, 2016 because of the investigation, and was arrested on charges of battery and false imprisonment on April 26, 2017.
Not even 3 months later, on July 21, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges. The arrest form and court records related to the case have been destroyed.
A memo from the State Attorney’s Office, Assistant State Attorney Laura Adams, read:
“It should be noted that I have no reason to believe that the victim became uncooperative due to the allegations in this case being false. To the contrary, there is a great deal of evidence which provides corroboration for the victim’s allegations, which is why I authorized an arrest warrant in this case. However, it appears that during the time this case was pending, the victim became fearful of some sort of retaliation by law enforcement and moved out of her mother’s home.”
The victim told Adams she felt forced to flee for her safety and “she was too afraid to return to Miami-Dade” after Figueroa “called her when she had not provided him with her contact number.”