MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – A five year veteran of the Miami Beach police department has been accused of taking a department all-terrain vehicle on a high speed joyride on the beach with a female passenger and accidentally running into two people.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is waiting for blood test results to determine if Miami Beach police officer Derick Kuilan was driving under the influence of alcohol when he crashed into Kitzie Nicantor, 28, and Luis Almonte, 29, who were walking on the beach near 4th street early Sunday morning.
Jonathan Adames said he witnessed the incident. He said his childhood friend, Almonte, and Nicantor were hit by the officer who left the scene.
“I didn’t think she was going to make it,” he said. “She had sand in her mouth, blood and sand in her nose and her mouth. I’m enraged at the same time, I’m scared and I’m running around frantic. I don’t know what to do. These are my friends. I want justice.”
Almonte’s brother, Isramil Almonte, spoke to CBS4’s Silva Harapetian and he’s calling for justice.
“Had that been us, we would have taken a breathalyzer test right then and there,” he said. “They would have made our life impossible.”
Kuilan has been relieved of duty pending an investigation.
Miami Beach Police said that Kuilan violated department policy by allowing a civilian to ride on the back of his ATV. He was on ATV patrol on Miami Beach because of a rash of recent thefts.
Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Bower said she’s outraged. She said Kuilan abandoned his post on the beach to have a drink at the Clevelander while he was on duty with another officer. That’s where she said he met a woman and took her on the ATV ride along the beach, ultimately crashing into a couple.
“It is terrible. It is terrible,” she said. “It is not supposed to happen. This is not what the police is all about. This is not what they are supposed to be doing. They are supposed to be taking care of us drinking or not the other policeman was supposed to be in North Beach.”
Miami Beach police said they’ve also launched a second investigation in the second officer who was also reportedly not at his post. They say that officer was not directly tied to the accident and say they will have more to say about him later this week.
Police have identified the woman Kuilan picked up as 27-year old Adelee Sharie Martin; having an ‘unauthorized passenger’ on the ATV is a direct violation of department policy.
When Kuilan reportedly ran down Nicantor and Almonte, Martin was thrown from the ATV. She was taken to Mt. Sinai Medical Center with minor injuries and released later in the day.
Nicantor, who is from Washington, underwent surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Sunday and is listed as stable.
Almonte, from North Miami, was also taken to Mt. Sinai where he too is listed as stable. His brother told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he was “very worried” about his brother because he has some serious injuries.
“He’s on medication and is drifting in and out of sleep,” the brother told D’Oench. He said Almonte is in the surgical intensive care unit at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Some tourists and locals found walking along the beach after dark were appalled by case.
“It’s terrible. There should be an investigation obviously,” said Pam Pester, a tourist.
Grace Cabezas lives on Miami Beach and said she will be more careful walking out there after dark.
“That is disgraceful, horrible, a police officer is supposed to take care of us and protect us,” said Cabezas. “We’re not supposed to worry about police officers drinking on the job, that’s crazy.”
Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega declined to speak with CBS 4 News but later released a statement.
“On my orders the officer was immediately relieved of duty pending the results of the various investigations,” said Noriega in his statement.
“Should the investigations determine that the officer involved in this accident failed to follow existing policies and /or procedures then I will take swift and firm action. The safety and well being of our residents and visitors is the Miami Beach Police Department’s primary mission.”