MIAMI (CBSMiami) — There were fireworks on Friday at Miami City Hall as Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo claimed that Police Chief Art Acevedo was going to have him and two other commissioners arrested as retaliation for the investigation.
Carollo said, “The statements of the chief can be interpreted as he is threatening us and trying to extort us and if we do not do what he wants he will arrest us. I don’t want to be arrested on some quiet street or have someone come knocking at my door. I am the main turkey. I am the main guy who he is upset with. I am not going to shut up. I don’t want to end up with a couple of rounds in me and a throw down gun so somebody could say I aimed a gun at police officers and they had no other alternative but to shoot me.”
Carollo said of the chief, “He himself should have the guts to do it it right now at this public meeting. He has a big mouth. Please quit threatening us.”
CBS4 has reached our for a reaction from Acevedo but so far the chief has not commented.
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Usually such investigations would go through outside agencies like the F.B.I. And the FDLE. City Manager Art Noriega said he has not been informed of any investigation. “You don’t have to fear that Commissioner Carollo,” he said.
Meanwhile, Commissoner Manolo Reyes told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that he is still upset with Acevedo for his comments that the Cuban Mafia is running the police department.
“I ask you how would you or any other ethnic group feel if comments were made like that. It would be offensive to any other ethnic group.”
CBS4 also spoke with Commissioner Ken Russell, who said, “I very much like the hiring process and the Chief and his record. However the Police Chief’s position in the city is not just about the department and not just about discipline. There is an entire world of politics here at City Hall and the unions. The Chief has to be about managing that as well and right now that is not going so great.”
The commission met on Monday to open these talks about Chief Acevedo, who was hired about five months ago. At that meeting, the commission voted to appoint themselves to an investigatgive committee with subpoena power to examine his appointment and look into his hiring practices.
In a preemptory strike ahead of Monday’s meeting, Acevedo sent an accusatory eight-page memo to Mayor Francis Suarez and City Manager Art Noriega accusing several commissioners of hampering his efforts to reform the police department by eliminating positions and interfering with internal affairs investigations. Commissioners on Monday said these allegations would be investigated by the committee they were forming and scheduled Friday’s follow-up meeting.
Monday’s meeting also turned into a war of words with Commissioner Joe Carollo scrutinizing Acevedo’s background while he worked in Houston and Austin, Texas. At one point, Carollo called Acevedo out for performing as Elvis at an Austin, Texas fundraiser and drew attention to his tight pants. Carollo played a video showing Acevedo dancing the cha-cha-cha at a fundraiser and slapping a woman’s rear with a piece of paper, and another video of him impersonating Elvis Presley dancing the “Jailhouse Rock” in the iconic white jumpsuit.
“Do you find it acceptable for your police chief? Not that he was dressed up as Elvis, not that he was trying to pretend that he looked like Elvis, not that he was trying to mimic Elvis’ thingie, but that he would go out publicly with pants like that in that fashion where his midsection are in pants so tight,” Carollo sked while looking at the city manager. “I am just going through parts to show what goes on through this man’s head.”
Later during the meeting, Carollo referred again to the “tight pants” and said the only time he wore pants like that was when he played football and had a jockstrap on.
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Carollo also brought up lawsuits from Acevedo’s time in Austin that claim he did not do enough to help rape victims.
City Manager Art Noriega, who hired Acevedo, said he knew nothing about these allegations.
A Fraternal Order of Police Survey found 79% of those polled do not have confidence in Acevedo’s ability to run the department. The same percentage said that he should be fired or asked to resign.
“I want an investigation,” said Commissioner Manolo Reyes. “An outside investigation of the chief and of us.”
Acevedo has been criticized after firing Deputy Chief Ronald Papier and his wife, Commander Nerly Papier, two high-level police officials for not properly reporting a patrol vehicle accident and for relieving of duty popular sergeant-at-arms Luis Camacho without explanation.
Acevedo also angered Cuban exiles earlier this month when reports emerged of remarks made by him saying the “Cuban mafia” ran Miami. The Cuban-born chief apologized for the comments made to officers and said he didn’t know that was a term former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to refer to exiles, arguing he was raised in California. Three of the five city commissioners are Cuban-American.
Acevedo, 57, came to Miami after serving more than four years as police chief in Houston, where he gained national prominence by calling for gun control, marching with protesters after George Floyd’s death and criticizing former President Donald Trump.
Miami city mayor Francis Suarez then called him “America’s best chief.” And Acevedo vowed to reform the department, acknowledging communities of color are disproportionately impacted by bad policing. Suarez was not present at Monday’s commission meeting.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)