Third MBPD Cop Faces Termination Over July 4th ATV Accident
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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A third police officer now faces dismissal from the department in the fallout from the July 4th ATV crash on Miami Beach.
On Thursday, the city notified Miami Beach Police Sgt. Manuel Moraga of it’s intent to dismiss him amid accusations of inadequate supervision of officers.
It’s the latest fallout from an Internal Affairs probe which found gross negligence and a breakdown in command led to two officers partying at a South Beach hotel, with one of them allegedly crashing a department issued ATV into two beachgoers.
According to a disciplinary report obtained by CBS4 News, Sgt. Moraga, an 11 year veteran, has been accused of violating five conduct policies. He has been relieved of duty without pay.
Among the claims, the report states the Sgt. Moraga was monitoring the radio the night of the ATV crash, but left his post 2 1/2 hours before the end of his shift. He did not make a note of his early departure. The report also says he failed to keep tabs on one of his subordinates, Officer Roland Gutierrez, who was reportedly partying at the Clevelander Hotel.
The action comes just one day after CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald reported three supervisors were served disciplinary notices and two other officers already have been disciplined. Two officers have been fired.
City Manager Jorge Gonzalez told the paper that new rules will bring more accountability to the police department.
According to Officer Derick Kuilan’s arrest warrant and police documents, he and 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.
Gutierrez was terminated after the incident.
Kuilan, who was also fired from the department, is fighting two felony counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury.
In grievance filed with the city, Kuilan and his attorney claim that investigators wrongly took his blood after the crash.
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 The Herald during a recent interview 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 are what led to the five-hour delay.
But Kuilan and his defense attorney, Evan Hoffman, are challenging the test.
If convicted, Kuilan faces up to 20 years in prison.
(©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)