Miami, FL – Former Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against the city manager and three commissioners that claimed his firing less than six months after he was hired was because he was blowing the whistle on corruption in the city government.
Acevedo filed the lawsuit in federal court in Miami on Jan. 19, the Miami Herald reported.
The court filing accused Miami City Manager Art Noriega and Miami City Commissioners Joe Carollo, Alex Díaz de la Portilla, and Manolo Reyes of having violated his First Amendment rights.
The complaint alleged that the city commissioners voted to terminate Acevedo less than six months after he became Miami’s top cop because he tried to maintain his independence as police chief, the Miami Herald reported.
“After he was appointed Chief of Police, [Acevedo] attempted to promote officers committed to reform, to investigate officer misconduct, and to push back on attempts by certain City of Miami Commissioners to use the men, women, and resources of the MPD… as their puppet,” the lawsuit read. “In particular, Commissioners Carollo, Diaz de la Portilla, and Reyes targeted Chief Acevedo because of his resistance to their efforts to use the MPD to carry out their personal agendas and vendettas.”
The complaint went on to detail multiple allegations of illegal and unethical behavior by city commissioners, the Miami Herald reported.
The lawsuit alleged that commissioners used police and code enforcement officers to target businesses owned by Bill Fuller, who was critical of Carollo.
It also accused commissioners of interfering in an internal affairs investigation of member of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s security detail, according to the Miami Herald.
Acevedo’s complaint also alleged that commissioners ordered him to arrest “communist” protesters in Little Havana.
The now-former police chief claimed he had discovered during his brief stint heading up the department that Miami police officers engaged in a “pattern of excessive use of force” and police officials had covered it up, the Miami Herald reported.
In the lawsuit, Acevedo pointed to one specific incident when an officer punched a handcuffed woman who spit in his face and then took her to the ground “causing her to lose consciousness.”
The complaint claimed that Acevedo gained whistleblower protections when he complained to the mayor and the city manager about the commissioners in a Sept. 24, 2021 memo, the Miami Herald reported.
Acevedo’s suit said the police chief also sent his memo to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and to the Miami-Dade state’s attorney.
The lawsuit claimed that Suarez and Noriega told him the commissioners’ “behavior was part of doing business in the City of Miami,” the Miami Herald reported.
“So you’ve gone after them, and better be sure you have a kill shot because if you don’t, you better not take it,” Acevedo alleged in his lawsuit that Noriega warned him.
The five-member city commission held an almost five hour, quasi-judicial meeting on Oct. 14, 2021 which served as a de facto trial to satisfy the city charter’s requirement for a hearing prior to Chief Acevedo’s firing, FOX News reported.
At the end, the commissioners voted unanimously to terminate Chief Acevedo.
Noriega then suspended Chief Acevedo and announced his intention to terminate his employment, WPLG reported.
“The relationship between the Chief and the organization has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly,” Noriega said. “In particular, the relationship between the Chief and the Police Department he leads – as well as with the community – has deteriorated beyond repair.”
“Relationships between employers and employees come down to fit and leadership style and unfortunately, Chief Acevedo is not the right fit for this organization,” the city manager added.
In December of 2021, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer welcomed Acevedo to the scandal-plagued network as a law enforcement analyst.