Fmr. Miami Beach ATV Cop Fights Felony Charges
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MIAMI (CBS4)- The attorney representing the fired Miami Beach police officer accused of plowing the his police-issued ATV into a man and a woman during an alleged drunken, on-duty joyride entered a not guilty plea on behalf of his client in court Thursday.
Derick Kuilan, 30, is fighting two felony counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury. If convicted, Kuilan faces upto 20 years in prison. Kuilan was not present at his arraignment Thursday.
The incident, which occurred last month, injured two people.
Kuilan’s attorney Evan Hoffman said his client’s blood was drawn illegally. On that basis, Kuilan is also fighting to get his job back.
Kuilan wrote in a grievance filed with the city of Miami Beach that investigators wrongly took his blood after the July 3 crash.
However, state prosecutors said the blood test — taken more than five hours after the pre-dawn crash — showed Kuilan’s blood-alcohol levels were above the legal limit.
Police Chief Carlos Noriega told CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald that his department took steps to ensure that Kuilan’s blood test was drawn legally, including contacting the state attorney’s office, before taking a sample. He said those efforts led to the five-hour delay.
Hoffman said he will challenge the test.
“The city based their arbitrary decision to terminate me on an unconstitutional/unlawful test and false, inflammatory and unsubstantiated allegations and information,” Kuilan wrote in his grievance, filed July 27, the day after he was charged by prosecutors.
Kuilan is asking to be reinstated with back pay and benefits.
Hoffman said the drug test violated state law and said Kuilan’s case is “very defensible.” He said surveillance footage from The Clevelander will show that he wasn’t drinking at the popular South Beach venue, as was alleged by a witness.
“It’s been sensationalized,” he said. “People are assuming that’s what’s already been put out there is true, and I wouldn’t assume that.”
According to Kuilan’s arrest warrant and police documents, Kuilan and fired Officer Rolando Gutierrez were on duty the morning of July 3 when they entered the bar and dance-floor area of the Clevelander around 5 a.m. and met four women in the midst of a bachelorette party.
The women said the two officers began dancing with them and then Kuilan invited bachelorette Adalee Martin on an ATV ride and sped down the beach with his lights off and Martin clinging to his waist. They turned back north and then crashed into Luis Almonte and Kitzie Nicanor near Fourth Street. Both Almonte suffered broken femurs and Nicanor, who is suing Kuilan and The Clevelander, underwent multiple surgeries.
One of Martin’s friends told police shortly after the crash that Kuilan and Gutierrez were drinking, but later on police reported that the women only saw Gutierrez drinking. Gutierrez has also filed a grievance, challenging the legality of his breathalyzer test.
On Friday, Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower stood by city administrators’ decision to fire both officers, according to the Herald.
“We can not tolerate this kind of behavior from police officers in Miami Beach,” she said.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)