MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three months after he was fired, former Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo is taking legal action against the City of Miami.
On Wednesday, Acevedo filed a 50-page lawsuit claiming the city manager and three commissioners violated his First Amendment rights.
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Acevedo claims they illegally retaliated against him for blowing the whistle on, what he describes as, a toxic stew of corruption and wrongdoing at city hall.
That includes City Manager Art Noriega and Commissioners Joe Carollo, Alex Díaz de la Portilla, and Manolo Reyes.
The complaint details several examples of alleged illegal and unethical activity by commissioners, saying they attempted to “weaponize” Miami police officers against their enemies.
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Acevedo said his firing after only being on the job six months was retribution for trying to maintain his independence as police chief.
It claims those commissioners “targeted Chief Acevedo because of his resistance to their efforts to use the MPD to carry out their personal agendas and vendettas, his reform efforts, and his speaking out against corruption and abuse of power by the City of Miami Commission.”
The new lawsuit alleges Commissioner Carollo demanded Acevedo investigate multiple businesses of his political opponent on allegations Acevedo says were unfounded
It also claims the commissioners interfered in an investigation into a Miami Sergeant-at-Arms, accused of a security breach.
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The lawsuit further says commissioners pushed back against Acevedo’s efforts to combat excessive use of force and their alleged cover-ups.
The suit cites a specific instance where “a woman in police custody spit on an officer, the officer punched her in the face and drove her to the ground, causing her to lose consciousness.”
Back in September and October, Acevedo was the subject of criticism in a series of fiery commission meetings. The concerns raised included a comment Acevedo made about the department being run by the “Cuban mafia,” his demoting of several police officers, and a Fraternal Order of Police survey which found 79% of those polled did not have confidence in Acevedo’s ability to run the department.
Commissioner Carollo even went so far as to criticize the size of Acevedo’s pants when he performed as Elvis for a charity fundraiser and made comments about if he was “wearing a jockstrap.”
Noriega released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“This was expected and I look forward to the opportunity to discredit these false claims made by the former Police Chief. It’s clearly an attempt to retaliate against the individuals that held him accountable for his own shortcomings as Miami Police Chief and to attempt to salvage his professional reputation by casting blame on others. I will leave it to our Law Department to address the complaint directly through the proper legal channels.”
Commissioner Manolo Reyes also issued a statement:
“It is extremely unfortunate that Mr. Acevedo has chosen to sue the city of Miami and its elected officials for his own shortcomings as a police chief. We look forward to handling this matter in court. More so, at no time did I give Mr. Acevedo a list of restaurants and bars to investigate. Nor did I give him any directive regarding an internal affairs investigation.
We will all have our day in court.”
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Commissioner Carollo could not be reached for comment.