Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another cop to be fired in Miami Beach ATV crash


From the Miami Herald:
A third Miami Beach police officer has been notified that he will be fired in connection with a near fatal July 3 accident in which a cop is accused of drinking on duty then taking a bachelorette on a drunk joyride on his city-owned ATV.

Sgt. Manuel Moraga was served [Wednesday] with a notice of the city’s intent to discipline (see document below) him for gross negligence for leaving his midnight shift early, thereby leaving officers under his command unsupervised and whole sections of the city without proper police supervision.
According to the internal affairs probe, Moraga supervised Rolando Gutierrez, who, together with officer Derick Kuilan, were drinking and partying at the Clevelander bar during the early morning hours of July 3. Moraga had assigned Gutierrez to patrol mid-beach and, according to the investigation, apparently ignored repeated radio transmissions indicating that Gutierrez was not in his assigned area throughout most of the shift.

Gutierrez and Kuilan were instead frolicking with women at the Clevelander, and it was Kuilan who crashed his ATV into two beachgoers as he sped down the coastline about 5:15 a.m. with the bride-to-be on the back of his vehicle and his lights off. Blood-alcohol tests showed that both officers were under the influence of alcohol.

After the crash, an emergency call went out, and Gutierrez then reported to his assigned area in mid-beach. When one of the woman at the bar told first-responders at the crash scene that the two officers had been drinking, Gutierrez and Kuilan were ordered to police headquarters.

Moraga told investigators he was not aware that his subordinate, Gutierrez, was called to police headquarters over the radio even though Moraga was responsible for monitoring all radio calls. He also claimed, that while he knew there was some kind of an emergency involving a woman who was injured, he failed to ask anyone details about what happened.
Moraga was relieved of duty without pay effective Wednesday.

The document below charges Moraga with six violations of police department policy including "conduct unbecoming" and "gross negligence and gross inefficiency."

UPDATED at 7:45pm: On Tuesday the Miami Herald reported:
Three supervisors were served notices of intent to discipline [in connection with the ATV incident.] Two other officers have already been disciplined, two have been fired and further punishment is forthcoming, said City Manager Jorge Gonzalez. Hearings for the trio that were given notice on Tuesday are scheduled for Monday.
One of the supervisors, Lt. Jerome Berrian, was "demoted to sergeant and required to reimburse the city $2,600 for claiming compensation for time he did not work," according to the Herald.

Yesterday, Tim Elfrink of Miami New Times reported,
The night of the [ATV] crash, Berrian was in charge of supervising both Kuilan and Gutierrez. Yet he showed up at least two hours late for his 10:30 p.m. start time. He told investigators he was "at a party," and later spent "a prolonged period of time in the restroom."

He didn't log onto his work computer until around 1:45 in the morning. In the meantime, Guiterrez went to work with Kulian when he was supposed to be on patrol farther north on the Beach. When Kuilan's direct supervisor went home early due to an illness, Berrian left two full districts unsupervised for almost two hours.

Just to top it off, Berrian falsified his time sheets to show that he'd actually arrived on time at 10:30 p.m., investigators found, and claimed 7.5 overtime hours while dealing with the aftermath of the ATV crash.
In the same story Elfrink notes that
"Berrian has long been one of the highest compensated officers on the force thanks to heaps of overtime work. In the five years before 2010, he made $824,538. In 2007, Elfrink reported that "Berrian hauled in $225,065.15. About $38,000 of that came from an off-duty job, but from taxpayers he still made $77,000 in salary, $99,700 in overtime."
Given the fact that Berrian was disciplined for falsifying his time sheets, Miami filmmaker Billy Corben thinks it may be time to look at some of that past overtime Berrian claims to have worked. Corben Tweeted today, "Anybody investigating possible fraud in $824,000 in overtime pay Miami Beach Lt. Jerome Berrian made 2005-2010?"

Moraga Intent to Discipline

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