COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - Suspended City of Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo is expected to speak publicly for the first time in weeks as commissioners discussed his early exit in their third special meeting on the matter.
7News cameras captured Acevedo as he walked toward the Miami City Commission building in Coconut Grove, Thursday afternoon.
When asked if there was anything he wanted to say, the police chief replied, “I’m OK right now.”
7News asked the police chief how he feels about the opportunity to defend himself. His attorney, John Byrne, replied, “We’re not answering questions.”
Byrne said he objects to the meeting because the legal team received the memorandum about the meeting on Monday and did not have enough time to mount a defense.
A request from Acevedo’s legal team for a continuance was denied.
Byrne said they will not be calling any witnesses during their portion of the case.
Miami Commission Vice Chair Oliver Gilbert III asked Byrne whether he is forfeiting to defend his client. The attorney replied he will not forfeit, adding he just wanted more time.
Among those who testified before the commission was Miami Police Interim Chief Manny Morales. He said, “The rank-and-file have lost confidence in Chief Acevedo.”
Byrne later cross-examined Morales.
“Now, if Chief Acevedo is terminated, do you plan to apply for that position?” said the attorney.
“Yes, I do,” said Morales.
Earlier on Thursday, 7News spoke with Miami Commissioner Jeffrey Watson about his thoughts on the meeting.
“My expectation is to hear out, let the process run its course, and then from there, make a decision,” he said.
Commissioners weighed in on City Manager Art Noriega’s eight reasons as to why he suspended Acevedo and why, he believes, the chief of police should be fired.
Noriega made the announcement of Acevedo’s suspension “with the intent to terminate his employment” on Monday evening.
“He was hired with a high level of expectation, and unfortunately, not every hire works,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
The embattled chief was on the job for six months.
In that time, the city manager found eight reasons to part ways.
Acevedo made that comment referring to Miami city leaders. He later apologized for it.
Attorney Stephanie Marchman represented Noriega at Thursday’s meeting.
“The chief has lost confidence and trust of the rank-and-file, and as of Oct. 1, 2021, the executive staff,” she said. “As a result, he’s lost the ability to lead the department.
In a letter to the chief, dated Monday, Noriega wrote in part, “The chief offended the community by making the ‘Cuban mafia’ statement.”
Marchman further expanded on Noriega’s arguments.
“The chief had an ill-advised interaction with a civilian, which resulted in a reprimand,” she said.
Acevedo has made accusations that some city commissioners were interfering with police matters, which commissioners denied.
Byrne defended his client and the memo he wrote, saying his rights have already been violated, and he was suspended for speaking the truth.
“Virtually every single allegation made against him, every single alleged basis for his suspension and termination, pre-existed, pre-dated, him sending that memo,” he said. “What does that tell us? That tells us that Chief Acevedo wasn’t suspended for those claimed reasons. He was suspended because he had the courage to do what many of us in the community don’t have the courage to do, which is to speak truth to power.”
The feud between Acevedo and some elected officials has been in the spotlight for several weeks now. The chief has accused several city commissioners of interfering with police business, a claim commissioners have denied.
“I am going to be as fair as I can to Mr. Acevedo to present his defense to us,” said Commissioner Joe Carollo.
Carollo said he has all the time in the world to sort out Acevedo’s future with the Miami Police Department.
“What I want to be very clear from the onset is that this is not going to be a free-for-all, where they’re going to want to extend this for days and days,” he said.
Nevertheless, termination proceedings are expected to last several days.
At around 6 p.m., commissioners took a break. After the break, Noriega’s attorney is expected to call up a witness to testify. She will then cede the floor to Byrne, who said he will call up Acevedo to testify.
If Acevedo is fired without cause, he is entitled to about $130,000.
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