(CNN Español) — The Miami City Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to affirm the suspension of Police Chief Art Acevedo and immediately remove him from office.
The decision was made at the end of a nearly five-hour hearing during which the city manager’s attorney, Arthur Noriega, called four witnesses, including the city’s Human Resources Director, Angela Roberts, the chief of Assistant Police Officer Armando Aguilar, Noriega and Acting Police Chief Manny Morales.
Acevedo’s attorney, John Byrne, said the process “was predestined” and argued that it was not a “fair scenario.” The chief’s defense team did not subpoena any witnesses because they were denied a request for an adjournment until Monday to prepare for the hearing, Byrne said.
Witnesses were asked about the eight issues raised in Acevedo’s memorandum to Noriega, dated October 11, which caused the chief to lose “the trust of the rank and file” and led to his suspension.
Acevedo was given the opportunity to defend himself before the commissioners at the hearing, but did not take the stand.
According to Noriega, Acevedo “lost the trust of the base,” as well as of the executive staff after three incidents in which Acevedo appeared to support a covid-19 vaccination mandate for agents, received a vote of no confidence from the Fraternal Order of the Police and witnessed that its deputy chief “verbally assaulted his executive staff after a commission meeting and did not intervene” on October 1.
Acevedo’s suspension came immediately after city commissioners called for his removal during two controversial one-hour meetings on September 27 and October 1 to discuss his decisions and behavior that were deemed questionable.
Acevedo wrote an explosive memorandum to Mayor Francis Suárez and Noriega on September 24 in which he accused three city commissioners of interfering with reform efforts and a confidential internal investigation.
“Employer-employee relationships boil down to fit and leadership style and, unfortunately, Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization,” Noriega said in his statement. “Now is the time to move forward with the search for new leadership in MPD.”
What did the defense of Art Acevedo say?
Byrne, the chief’s attorney, said at the hearing that Acevedo was suspended as a result of that memo, adding: “He had the courage to do what many of us don’t have the courage to do, which is to tell the truth to people. in the power”.
Byrne said during his closing speech that, based on the evidence seen at the hearing, Acevedo was not suspended for the eight claims in Noriega’s memo, but for the boss’s own memo.
“It’s not right, it’s not fair, and I hope the commissioners can come together and do the right thing,” Byrne said. “The people are watching, the nation is watching, and we deserve better.”
In her closing remarks, Noriega’s attorney, Stephanie Marchman, said Acevedo’s Sept. 24 memo “was not the basis for her decision to suspend the boss.”
“When the city manager received the action plan that he had requested, at that moment he knew it was time to move on because the chief did not acknowledge or admit what the problems were,” Marchman said. “How can the city manager help this department move forward when the boss does not actually acknowledge or admit that there are problems?”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism