MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Sixteen months after a North Miami police officer shot an unarmed man with his hands raised, a commander who was suspended after the incident is suing the city.
Behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey lay on the pavement in North Miami with his hands up on July 18th, 2016, an autistic client sitting by him holding a toy truck.
Kinsey was shot by an officer. An errant shot intended for Kinsey’s patient who the cop thought was holding a gun instead of the toy.
Officer Jonathan Aledda was charged with attempted manslaughter and negligence.
Hollant said he didn’t see the shooting, that he was getting his binoculars from his car. Department investigators didn’t believe him.
Suspended for 16 months now, Hollant filed a federal lawsuit Friday, alleging civil rights violations, discrimination and slander among other things.
“Through gross incompetence, racism, politics and vindictiveness, Emile Hollant was crucified,” said attorney Michael Pizzi, who is representing Hollant with co-counsel Ben Kuehne, a powerhouse South Florida lawyer.
Hollant’s suit names the city of North Miami, City Manager Larry Spring, acting Police Chief Larry Juriga, internal affairs Det. Diana Roma and Councilmember Scott Galvin who accused him last year of making false statements about the shooting.
Hollant was cleared though by the FDLE and the state attorney’s office.
Galvin disputed that on Friday.
“They didn’t find any criminal wrongdoing. I’m not saying anybody made any criminal wrongdoing, but there’s a difference between criminal wrongdoing and making false statements,” Galvin said.
Galvin was wrong, however, in his assessment of the state attorney’s findings.
In a close out memo prosecutors in State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office wrote, “We conclude that Commander Hollant did not lie (or) mislead or obstruct investigators regarding his involvement in the police shooting.”
Still, he remains suspended.
City Manager Spring issued the following statement Friday:
I have reviewed the complaint filed by Commander Hollant. From the beginning the city of North Miami has continued to be very transparent regarding all of the details surrounding the 2016 police-involved shooting incident. In fact, we have instituted several improvements focused on increasing the public trust via community policing. While Commader (sic) Hollant now alleges discrimination and lack of due process on the part of the city, he has availed himself of two outside administrative agencies, the Miami-Dade County Human Rights Commission and the federal EEOC, whom have both determined there is no evidence of said discrimination. Commander Hollant remains on paid administrative leave while we finalize the “due process” he alleges we are circumventing. In fact, we have provided Commander Hollant and his attorneys several opportunities to discuss this employment matter and possible resolutions. We understand all individuals right to sue, so we will now defend the city in this lawsuit, in the same way we are ironically defending Commander Hollant and other named individuals in the lawsuits filed by the two victims of the shooting incident.
When asked to comment on how his life has been affected by his long suspension and allegations of lying, Hollant replied “I’d rather not.”
But Pizzi said the commander’s professional and personal life have been ruined. The terms of his suspension, Pizzi said, amount to imprisonment.
“He can’t go anywhere. He is still under virtual house arrest. He can’t wear a gun, he can’t wear a badge, he can’t wear his uniform,” Pizzi said.
Pizzi said Hollant’s lawsuit will seek $10 million in damages.
The criminal case against Officer Aledda who shot the unarmed therapist is pending.