The day before a mother was arrested for allegedly striking a child caseworker and kicking two Key Biscayne police officers, her husband was charged with battery after a fight that left facial marks and other bruises on her, according to law enforcement records.
There is no indication about any potential danger to the child, according to a KBI review of available records in the case.
But Paula Peri-Cohen now says she was never hit, and that Key Biscayne officers overreacted to a difficult home situation. She says she and her husband acted rudely but also said officers were abusive.
Three days after her husband’s misdemeanor arrest, she filed a sworn statement saying she did not want not to prosecute and did not feel threatened.
“I made a mistake, I was kind of freaking out because of the system in the U.S.,” said Peri-Cohen, who is from Colombia.
Prosecutors are still reviewing evidence and no decisions have been made about whether any of the charges filed by Key Biscayne police will go any further — a common occurrence in domestic disputes, said Ed Griffith, a spokesman for State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Dismissal is not automatic when an alleged victim declines to press charges — it depends on the evidence that is collected, he said.
The emotional incident underscored the difficulties in dealing with complaints of family-related violence, which does not discriminate by Zip code or income, officials acknowledged. “It’s everywhere,” said Lissette Valdes-Valle, another spokesperson for the state attorney.
According to a sworn police affidavit, the first arrest took place on the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 22nd, when officers responded with lights and sirens to a call at the Oceansound Condominium. Chief Frank Sousa said the call was placed to 9-1-1 and that nine officers were involved at various stages.
“Upon arrival, contact was made with the victim who stated she had a verbal argument with the defendant and the defendant lunged at her and hit her in the right cheek,” the report states.
Police noted redness on the cheek and bruising on the wrist, elbow, and jaw. She told police that she was defending herself, according to the affidavit.
Glenn Peri-Cohen, 43, told police there was an argument, but denied striking his wife and said video footage would back him up, the affidavit states. Police arrested him on a charge of misdemeanor battery. He was released on $1,500 bond with a Nov. 15 court date and has pleaded not guilty, records show.
But on Monday, his wife gave a different account.
“My husband didn’t hit me at all,” said Ms. Peri-Cohen, expressing concern for her nine-year-old son in a phone interview. “I will do anything to protect him.” She described her call to police as “just a ring” and “a joke,” and did not intend for police to even arrive.
She also disputed police accounts of her encounter with the child case worker the following day, which led to her arrest on battery and resisting arrest charges.
Sousa said Monday it was the child protective services worker who called police to the condominium. In a report, officers said the worker said she was kicked in the thigh, which officers said they corroborated with an eyewitness at Oceansound.
“Because of the situation, we were pretty rude to them, we were very offensive,” Ms. Peri-Cohen said of her interaction with authorities. But she also said police were “super abusive” and that officers need more training.
Sousa said no abuse complaint was filed by the woman and said any allegation involving police misconduct would be investigated impartially and independently.
In Miami-Dade, a rapid-response unit known as MOVES makes contact with alleged victims of domestic violence.The state attorney program assesses needs, takes a sworn statement of the incident, and provides a safety plan. The MOVES unit was contacted in this case, records show, but it’s not known what actions were taken afterwards.
Key Biscayne police initially concealed information about the husband’s arrest, omitting it entirely from the ‘police blotter’ and then redacting his name in response to public records requests. The Independent obtained public information from other agencies, including the Clerk of Courts, the Miami-Dade Corrections Department and Rundle’s office.
Sousa said the department was trying to observe Marsy’s Law, which is meant to protect victims from harassment, but it does not guarantee permanent anonymity, and it explicitly does not protect criminal defendants.
In contrast, police confirmed the woman’s arrest and did not redact her name in records about Ms. Peri-Cohen’s being taken into custody. Sousa acknowledged the error Monday, saying the husband’s name should have also been provided.
If you suspect or need to report domestic violence, the State Attorney Domestic Abuse hotline is 305-547-0140
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.