MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami.com) –Two Miami Beach police officers involved in an ATV accident that left two people injured over the Fourth of July weekend were terminated Friday, the department said.
Miami Beach Police previously indicated both Officer Derick Kulian and Officer Rolando Gutierrez would be fired. The officers were in a meeting all morning with Chief Carlos Noriega and the human resources department, but by Friday afternoon their termination was “effective immediately,” according to the Miami Beach Police Department.
Kulian, a five-year veteran of the force, was “present at the Clevelander Hotel and that Officer Kulian took a civilian on his ATV in violation of departmental policies,” according to a Miami Beach Police statement released Tuesday.
The department said that the termination process is “separate and apart from the ongoing criminal investigation underway.”
Noriega gave a strict message at a news conference Friday afternoon with the City Manager and Mayor Matti Bower.
“This is conduct that we have never tolerated and will not tolerate,” said Noriega. “There is no room for this sort of mistake. This was a huge mistake. It will not be tolerated. This is a message to the public and our citizens and to the department that we expect the best type of professional behavior. It is important for our 10 million visitors every year and 90,000 residents. We work too hard for something that leaves everyone with a bad taste. To say that I am upset is an understatement.
He defended the decision not to charge Officer Kuilan, saying that “contrary to some reports,” he did not leave the scene of the accident and he said his blood alcohol test results were not available. “If we find that he is DUI, he will be prosecuted,” said Noriega.
Even if he was not DUI, Kuilan could still be prosecuted for reckless driving or culpable negligence, authorities say. CBS4’s Peter D’Oench checked with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office and found that no decision had been made yet on possible charges against Kuilan.
Chief Noriega said both officers were “distraught” when he met with them.
The City Manager cited dereliction of duties and conduct unbecoming an officer as reasons to fire the men.
Mayor Bower said, “I think it was very important to show our visitors and our residents that when action like this needs to be taken, it is taken. It was important that the Chief acted swiftly. I feel deeply concerned about this, for those who have suffered, their families and even the families of the police officers.”
The officers still have their state certificates as officers, but Noriega said he would be notifying the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about the firings.
Both officers left Police headquarters without commenting.
Officer Gutierrez, a six-year veteran of the force, was fired because he was with Kulian at the bar at1020 Ocean Drive. According to police, the officers were drinking while on duty.
Officer Kulian allegedly hit Luis Almonte, 29, and his friend Kitzie Nicanor, 28, with an ATV just after 5 a.m. Sunday.
The accident sent Luis Almonte, 29, to intensive care at Mt. Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach. Doctors used a rod to fix Luis’ broken femur.
Nicanor, who is from the state of Washington, is being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Her spleen has been removed and there is a perforation in her heart, CBS4’s Peter D’Oench reported.
D’Oench also reported that she has a broken femur as well and her leg was being operated on.