COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - City of Miami commissioners voted unanimously to fire embattled Police Chief Art Acevedo after six months on the job.
Thursday night’s vote followed hours of testimony, as commissioners debated the police chief’s fate.
Hours earlier, 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.”
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.
In an incendiary eight-page memo, Acevedo accused some city commissioners of interfering with police matters, an allegation the commissioners denied.
Speaking before the commission, 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.”
Noriega testified before the commission about his reasons behind his suspension of Acevedo.
“I thought what he did and how he lost confidence in such [a short] period of time was, to me, unacceptable,” he said.
Commissioners broke at around 6 p.m. and later resumed the meeting.
“It’s not right. It’s not fair. I hope that the commissioners can do the right thing,” said Byrne. “The people are watching; the nation is watching. We deserve better.”
City commissioners asked over and over again to hear from Acevedo.
“If Chief Acevedo could say anything, [if] it would make any difference, he would,” said Byrne. “It’s very clear here what’s going on.”
Termination proceedings were initially expected to take days, but shortly before 8 p.m., commissioners voted to fire Acevedo.
Following the vote, Acevedo spoke publicly on the matter for the first time outside City Hall.
“Despite the fact the department has many men and women, wonderful men and women serving, the department was and continues to be in need of reform,” he said.
Acevedo continued to show his support for his former colleagues.
“I lament the fact that I will not have the opportunity to continue serving here,” he said. “To reiterate, there are many quality men and women in this department. I want them to know that I admire them and will continue to support them.”
Acevedo also addressed the allegations he made in his memo.
“As to the disclosures I made to my superiors, Mayor Suarez and City Manager Noriega, those disclosures are now being investigated by the proper government authorities,” he said.
The reaction after the vote was swift and polarizing.
“A lot of officers supported him. A lot of officers were scared to come out and say that, but he had a lot of support in the department,” said President of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association Sgt. Stanley Jean-Poix.
“I’m just glad they could find it before it got too late,” said former Houston Police Officer Rick Odis. “Luckily it didn’t destroy the department and rip it apart even more.”
“I never, I never supported it,” said Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes. “I was always opposed to it, and nothing personal against Acevedo, it’s because he did not follow the process that was established.”
An investigative panel will still review Acevedo’s accusations.
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