WSVN — Tonight, officers from two South Florida police departments are facing possible disciplinary action. It all centers around a minor car crash, but a major question: Was an off-duty officer drinking behind the wheel and given special treatment? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
It was around 10 at night on March 15th. A Miramar Police officer says he saw a Ford truck traveling through a residential neighborhood at 50 miles per hour, twice the legal speed limit. The officer saw the truck run a stop sign and crash into a small tree.
The driver was Kevin Thomas, a Miami-Dade Police officer. According to this Miramar Police report, Thomas got out and said, “I’m sorry, I’m a police officer with Metro.”
The Miramar officer noted he “…smelled a strong odor of alcoholic beverage…” on Thomas’ breath, along with “…slurred speech, bloodshot glassy eyes, and his face was flushed.” The Miramar officer also noted the inside of the truck was “…saturated with alcoholic beverage (beer).” And, “It appears Thomas was drinking while operating the vehicle…” noting thomas’ clothes were “drenched” in alcohol.
But despite that, Officer Thomas was not tested for drunk driving.
Carmel Cafiero: “Instead, the Miramar officer called his sergeant, who arrived and called a Miami-Dade Police sergeant, who showed up with additional supervisors. But nobody on scene ever tested Thomas for alcohol.”
Thomas was given tickets for running a stop sign, speeding, open container and an expired tag. He was later charged with reckless driving.
When the Broward State Attorney’s Office reviewed the case, it questioned why Thomas was not investigated for DUI, prompting an Internal Affairs investigation by Miramar.
The sergeant at the scene admitted to investigators that he called his supervisor for guidance. And the captain asked him, “Well, what would you do if it was a normal civilian?”
The sergeant’s response: “…conduct a DUI investigation and arrest him.”
But since that didn’t happen, the sergeant is facing discipline, and his department is dealing with the fallout.
Miramar Police Chief Ray Black: “The responsibility and the actions of the officers ultimately rests with me. I take responsibility for this.”
Miramar Police Chief Ray Black is out of town, but by phone told us Officer Thomas should have been tested and possibly arrested.
Chief Ray Black: “Those further steps that might have ended up taking him into custody for DUI or drunk driving did not take place. That’s what stopped, and that’s where the mistake occurred that night.”
Carmel Cafiero: “Hi, Officer Thomas?”
We wanted to talk to Officer Thomas, but he says he could not since his own department has an open Internal Affairs investigation.
Miami-Dade Police Officer Kevin Thomas: “I cannot. Since I’m a Miami-Dade Police officer, I cannot comment at this time.”
But his attorney spoke for him. He says Thomas was not drunk.
Juan Gonzalez: “He wasn’t drinking, but if he had been drinking he would have been given a roadside. He would have been given a breathalyzer. The fact that none was given is obvious, because he wasn’t drinking.”
While the Miami-Dade Police investigation is being conducted, Officer Thomas has been placed on desk duty. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.
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