6 Miami Beach Cops Fired, Suspended, Or Demoted After ATV Incident
MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) -One officer was fired, 3 more were demoted, and two others were suspended without pay as the Miami Beach Police Department meted out punishment for an incident that started at a bachelorette party, and ended with a police officer driving his department ATV into a group of tourists,
Sgt. Manuel Moraga, an 11-year veteran of the MBPD, was officially fired Friday for his role in the ATV incident. Moraga was accused of violating five conduct policies, and 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.
Gutierrez was seen in photos partying with a group of women at the bar while on duty. He later gave one of the women a ride on his department issued ATV, driving on the beach without lights. He smashed into a group of tourists, sending two to the hospital with serious injuries.
Gutierrez and officer Derick Kuilan have already been fired for his part in the incident.
A letter to Miami Beach commissioners Friday detailed the punishment for other officers involved. Most were punished for their failure to properly supervise the officers involved.
Sgt. Michael Muley was demoted to police officer, and suspended for 80 hours without pay. Lt. Jerome Berrian was demoted 2 ranks to police officer, and ordered to pay $2692.53 in restitution. Sgt. Alberto Estraviz was suspended 80 hours without pay.
Two other officers had already been disciplined; Captain Charles London was demoted to Lieutenant, and Major Brian Sliman was suspended 40 hours without pay.
According police documents, Kulian and 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.
The officers disciplined this week may file grievances or appeal their punishment.
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