NORTH MIAMI, FLA. (WSVN) - A high-ranking North Miami police officer is now suing the city and several officials one year after the controversial shooting of an unarmed black behavioral therapist by another officer.
The lawsuit was filed at 1 a.m. Friday on behalf of Cmdr. Emile Hollant against the City of North Miami, and several city leaders, for $10 million.
“Emile Hollant was crucified and had his career destroyed,” said Hollant’s attorney, Michael A. Pizzi Jr.
Hollant and his attorney hosted a news conference, Friday where they announced the lawsuit. Hollant has been on paid administrative leave for over a year, and his attorney said he was not allowed to leave his home during business hours without permission from the city.
“The message to North Miami is enough is enough,” Pizzi said. “Today we start the process of making him whole and making sure that he is completely vindicated.”
This comes after an internal investigation into the police-involved shooting of Charles Kinsey.
Kinsey was lying on the ground with his hands up in the air while his client who has autism sat next to him. Kinsey was working to explain to police that he was unarmed and that he was a behavioral therapist who was trying to calm his patient down. That’s when an officer opened fire and hit Kinsey.
The officer accused of pulling the trigger, Jonathan Aledda, was charged. Cmdr. Hollant was accused of misleading police and lying about his whereabouts during the shooting, even though an investigation by the state attorney’s office proved he was telling the truth when he said he did not witness the shooting.
“The [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] and the State Attorney’s Office completely exonerated Emile Hollant and found that Commander Hollant told the truth,” Pizzi said.
Although Hollant said he did not witness the shooting, the North Miami Police internal investigation alleged that he did.
“Commander Hollant was given the opportunity to appeal those decisions, and he didn’t,” said North Miami Vice Mayor Scott Galvin. “Letting that course run out and then choosing to file a brand-new lawsuit, I can’t begin to guess what his hopes are.”
Galvin is named in the lawsuit, along with the interim police chiefs, city manager and an internal affairs sergeant.
During the news conference, Hollant declined to speak. Pizzi and the 24-page lawsuit alleged discrimination and lack of due process.
“What price do you put on a man’s reputation and a man’s life and destroying his future and humiliating him?” asked Pizzi. “We feel ultimately, at the end of the day, that’ll be up to a jury.”
North Miami City Manager Larry Spring released a statement that reads in part, “Commander Hollant remains on paid administrative leave while we finalize the ‘due process’ he alleges we are circumventing. In fact, we have provided Commander Hollant and his attorneys several opportunities to discuss this employment matter and possible resolutions. We understand all individuals right to sue, so we will now defend the city in this lawsuit, in the same way, we are ironically defending Commander Hollant and other named individuals in the lawsuits filed by the two victims of the shooting incident.”
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