MIAMI (CBS4) – A former Miami Beach police officer who allegedly hit a couple on Miami Beach with his ATV over the July 4th weekend is facing several charges.
Miami Beach officer Derick Kulian and Rolando Gutierrez were reportedly drinking on duty at the Clevelander Hotel on the night of July 3rd when Kulian allegedly took a woman for a ride on the beach on his ATV. During the ride, Kuilan hit and seriously injured 29-year-old Luis Almonte and his friend 28-year-old Kitzie Nicanor, according to police.
Both officers have been fired.
On Tuesday, Kulian turned himself in to law enforcement officials at the Miami-Dade jail. He faces four third-degree felony counts, and each count could mean up to five years behind bars, CBS4’s Peter D’Oench reported.
According to Miami-Dade corrections spokeswoman Janelle Hall, Kulian was charged with one count of reckless driving, two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury to another and two counts of committing serious bodily injury.
Bond was listed at $30,000. He was released early Tuesday afternoon.
Two sources told CBS4’s Jim DeFede that the reckless driving charge was added because even though Kulian’s blood alcohol level was over the legal limit there may be some legal question as to whether the sample taken to determine if he had been drinking was taken properly and would be admissible in court.
“No one in the police department, no one in law enforcement, none of us can ever accept and tolerate the concept of a drunken on-duty police officer,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
The Attorney’s office released an image that shows the two officers posing with partygoers at Clevelander Hotel in Miami Beach.
Fernandez Rundle said those at the party thought the officers were unprofessional that they were part of the entertainment.
“This is painful, but they don’t tolerate it,” she said. “None of us do.”
In announcing the charges against Kulian and releasing the photo, both the Fernandez Rundle and the Miami Beach police chief said they were saddened by the incident that left Nicanor with a injuries, including the lost of her spleen and Almonte also with internal injuries. Miami Beach police chief Carlos Noriega said it all started with the party.
“Having drinks and doing what they did is mind-boggling,” Noriega said. “It’s a fleeting act of stupidity. It was reckless and in the end it tarnished our public trust.”
The announcement comes one day after Miami Beach officials began steps to fire two other police officers over the false arrest of Harold Strickland, a gay tourist who witnessed a police beating in March 2009.
Officers Frankly Forte and Eliut Hazzi allegedly yelled anti-gay epithets at Strickland and arrested him after he called 911 to report that he had seen them beating and kicking a man in a South Beach park. Strickland and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.
Investigators also are examining the Memorial Day weekend police-involved shooting death of a driver in which some 100 shots were fired.
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