MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami city commissioners voting five-to-nothing to fire embattled police chief Art Acevedo, on the job barely a hair over six months.
It was an emotional day for the city’s short-lived top cop, tearing up as he read from a prepared statement, “There are many quality men and women in this department. I want them to know I admire them and will continue to support them and fight for them.”READ MORE: Manatee Deaths Rise In Florida As Pollutants Kill Seagrass
We asked Commissioner Manolo Reyes if the ex-chief ever had a chance.
“No, I didn’t support (Acevedo’s) selection but opened (my) office and I spoke to him,” Reyes responded.
A quasi-judicial hearing intended to be only 90-minutes lasted closer to five-and-a-half hours as lawyers for City Manager Art Noriega and, now, former Chief Acevedo dueled back and forth.
Attorney Stephanie Marchman representing the city manager provided eight reasons to let the chief go, including his officers’ loss of confidence in their leader.
“I ask you to confirm the suspension and remove the chief,” beseeched Marchman.
Meanwhile, the former chief’s attorney objected to the hearing from the get-go, saying they were only given four days to prepare, arguing his client was a target because of his desire to change the police department for the better.
“He was suspended because he had courage to speak truth to power,” argued Byrne.
The lawyer not so subtly implying the commission was out to get Acevedo ever since late September when his client sent a memo to the feds asking to investigate corruption within the city.
“He was not suspended until after he sent memo on September 21st,” said Byrne.
The ex-chief’s lawyer choosing not to call any witnesses of his own, eliciting a dejected response from Vice Chairman Ken Russell, “The waste of time for me today is that a proper defense wasn’t given.”
After the vote to fire Acevedo, in a city hall conference room, Assistant Chief Manuel Morales was sworn in as the city’s interim police chief. Morales had sought to become police chief before Acevedo’s hire, saying he would likely apply again.READ MORE: CBS4 Nat Moore Trophy Profile: Miami Central High Safety Alfonzo Allen
In the meantime, CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke exclusively to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at City Hall ahead of the vote.
Mayor Suarez, who supported the decision to fire the chief, said this has been extremely difficult for him because he had such high hopes for the 57-year-old Acevedo after he was brought here from Houston.
Once a staunch supporter of the chief, Mayor Suarez said there have been too many missteps including an unauthorized threat to discipline employees who do not get vaccinated, a vote of “no confidence” by the Fraternal Order of Police, alleged offensive language used with a protestor and the ill-received comment calling the department the “Cuban mafia.”
Watch: Miami Mayor Suarez on Acevedo:
“I think he came in with the best of expectations. Our manager scoured the country to find the best possible candidate to lead our department,” said Mayor Suarez. “He’s someone who had led three prominent departments in the CHP, in Austin and in Houston, which is the fifth largest department in the nation, right. It’s larger than our entire city.”
Suarez thought since Acevedo is also a Cuban American, he would be able to “integrate seamlessly into the community, but unfortunately, that’s not what ended up happening. You go into these situations with the best of intentions and expectations and hope. But when it doesn’t work out, you also need to move forward because nothing is bigger than the city.”
City Manager Art Noriega also said Acevedo failed to report damage to a vehicle, failed to report personal and vacation time, overpaid a deputy chief, and said his action plan was “deficient.”
The ouster follows two raucous meetings where commissioner Joe Carollo, who said Acevedo isn’t “a real Cuban,” led other commissioners in lambasting Acevedo and his leadership, deciding to form an investigative committee with subpoena power to examine his appointment.
That investigation never happened.MORE NEWS: Arrest Affidavit: Accused Hollywood Cop Killer Jason Banegas Claims He Was Trying To Kill Himself In Struggle With Slain Officer Yandy Chirino
In a farewell email to staffers sent Monday, Acevedo said he would “continue to fight the good fight to rid MPD of the political interference from city hall that unfortunately continues to negatively impact this organization.”