By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
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None of the officers involved in his beating was disciplined, though they all have been the subject of prior internal affairs investigations. Shimko alone has generated eight complaints since he was hired in 1990, including two for excessive use of force, one for minor use of force, and three for discourtesy. None of the complaints was sustained by the department. Since the beating, Shimko stopped De Mola and accused him of improperly blocking a lane of traffic. Shimko also showed up at the police station the day De Mola had an appointment to get his record expunged. De Mola says Shimko made him feel so uncomfortable that he left. Shimko did not respond to a request for an interview.
"We have recognized that Officer Shimko may come across to citizens inappropriately, and we'd like for him to learn to discuss things with people better than what he does," says Assistant Chief Jim Scarberry. But he emphasizes that the Miami Beach Police Department believes Shimko and the other officers acted appropriately, although no investigation of the arrest was ever conducted. The police department has not investigated the allegations that De Mola was the target of repeated anti-gay slurs by members of the force during and after the arrest.
"Mr. De Mola did not file an internal affairs complaint," Scarberry declares. (De Mola counters that he thought the lawsuit itself was sufficient to trigger the complaint process. He says he will now file one if necessary.) "The settlement outlines that the police department and city admit no liability and no fault and are not accepting any responsibility," Scarberry continues. "The settlement does not mean that we believe our officers have done anything wrong."
The unwillingness of county officials to admit that he was unfairly treated not only by the cops but also by bureaucrats has caused De Mola to speak out about his experience even if it means publicly exposing his HIV status. "I don't want to see other people in this position, when they feel they can't express themselves, like they have no rights," he explains. "That is why I am taking a stand. I am over guilt and shame.