MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi mugged for the cameras and worked the crowd Wednesday night before the town council requested the Florida Department of Law Enforcement conduct an independent probe of his crash with a tree in June.
Witnesses said Pizzi left the scene for at least 45 minutes and never called police. He was not ticketed.
“I ask God to bring unity to the town of Miami Lakes and to end political strife,” said Pizzi.
Pizzi calls the request for an outside probe a political move – one motivated by those angry he regained office after being cleared of corruption charges.
“This is a case of political officials who spent a million dollars to keep me out of office and they lost the case and they can’t stand the fact that they lost the case,” said Pizzi.
He had his share of detractors and supporters at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I think it’s really embarrassing that you guys decided to have a meeting about an accident,” said a resident.
“When is it okay for you to hit a tree and run away?” asked another resident.
There are lots of contradictions in the case of the mayor and the tree.
The night of the accident, Pizzi told police his cell phone may have distracted him.
“My phone never stops ringing. I got a number of text messages. I might have been a little distracted,” he said.
But when CBS4’s Gary Nelson asked Pizzi why he went home to call a tow truck, Pizzi changed gears.
“You didn’t have a cell phone?” asked Nelson.
“What?” replied Pizzi.
Nelson repeated the question, “You didn’t have a cell phone?”
“My cell phone was inoperable, my cell phone was inoperable. I didn’t have it with me,” said Pizzi.
As for an FDLE probe of Pizzi’s crash and how cops handled it, FDLE spokeswoman Samantha Andrews told Nelson, “Our role is very limited to criminal activity. We would have to look at whether any criminal activity may have occurred before opening an investigation.”
A noted criminal defense attorney said it’s a no brainer.
“Gary, we would have been arrested. No doubt in my mind, with the facts that have been presented and come to light recently, we would have been arrested,” said Frank Gaviria.
If the FDLE does investigate, some questions came to Nelson’s mind.
The FDLE might want to inquire, why didn’t Pizzi use his cell phone to call for help, or if it wasn’t working, why didn’t he walk to a nearby firehouse?
Pizzi’s crash site was barely a block down the street from a fire station – much closer than his home nearly three quarters of a mile away. Miami-Dade Police never questioned Pizzi about this.
And Pizzi held forth at length for reporters Wednesday night.
“Muchas gracias. I gotta go. Muchas gracias,” he said, as he left refusing to answer any questions.