Exposť Fray

A TV reporter says he lost his job for doing his job

Kirsch maintains the officer lied, including when she asserted that she drew her Taser to keep him at bay. "That is false," he says. "She never pulled it out."

Perez charged Kirsch with a felony count of resisting arrest with violence and two misdemeanors -- assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct. Police spokeswoman O'Brien declined to comment about the arrest. "This case is still under investigation," she explained.

Word of his bust traveled fast. A week later a CBS 4 colleague informed Kirsch that, while at the BSO media relations office, he had seen a life-size poster of Kirsch's mug shot with the word captured stamped on it.

TV reporter Mike Kirsch says he was falsely arrested February 14 because of his exposés on local police departments
TV reporter Mike Kirsch says he was falsely arrested February 14 because of his exposés on local police departments

Kirsch submitted a public records request to BSO spokesman Elliott Cohen to obtain a copy of the allegedly doctored photo and the identity of any BSO employee involved in its production. According to Cohen's e-mailed response this past February 23: "The referenced document was not prepared on BSO equipment, no longer exists, and is not subject to Florida records laws." Cohen declined to comment further.

Since then, Kirsch has been fighting to clear his name. Miami-based criminal defense lawyer Michael Tein, whose partner is former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, agreed to represent the reporter pro bono. Tein obtained Perez's personnel file, which contains some unfavorable information about the officer. In 2006 she was reprimanded for calling a prisoner "a piece of shit" and "loser." In addition, Perez, while working in the warrants division from 2004 to 2005, was repeatedly warned and counseled about her poor attitude and failure to get along with fellow officers. Her superiors suggested she seek work elsewhere in the department. She landed patrol duty in Doral.

A private investigator hired by Tein interviewed one of the other motorists who received a traffic ticket from Perez the day she arrested Kirsch. In a sworn affidavit, the driver described Perez as "rude and condescending."

At Kirsch's arraignment this past March 26, state prosecutors dropped the two misdemeanors against him. They also reduced the felony to a misdemeanor of resisting arrest without violence. "In view of the evidence, we felt a misdemeanor, not a felony, was the appropriate charge," said Ed Griffith, spokesman for the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, who chose not to elaborate.

But the damage was done. Days before his court hearing, CBS 4 dropped Kirsch. The station barred him from its Doral headquarters, pulled his bio off the Website, and refused to renew his contract. CBS 4 officials declined to comment.

This past May 31, South Florida Society of Professional Journalists president Darcie Lunsford sent Director Parker a letter requesting that Miami-Dade Police open an internal affairs investigation into Kirsch's arrest. She is still waiting for a reply.

"I truly think [the police] thought I would cower, buckle, and that the story would be buried forever," Kirsch says. "But I have been through worse."

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