Johnny Winton Speaks

The commish talks for the first time about his 2006 arrest.

On the arrest form, police claimed Winton was too drunk to ride the escalator. So they slapped on handcuffs and led him to an elevator. Here's how Winton — accurately — describes the rest of the report: "I'm suddenly Bruce Lee. My hands are cuffed behind my back but I jump up and butt [Greene] in the head, then wheel and kick the other guy in the balls, a surgical strike."

What really happened was more mundane. As Greene tried to turn Winton toward the elevator, the commissioner lost his balance and fell against the officer's chest. Enraged, Greene shoved him against a wall and pushed him to the floor. The rough wall scratched his face as he fell, which explains the blood in the mug shot.

There was no kick in the gonads, Winton says. "I was cuffed. If I would have done that, I would have fallen backwards." Greene's chipped tooth resulted from a confrontation with another person, he contends.

Steve Satterwhite

Winton was soon hit with two felony counts of battery on a police officer and released on bail. The next day, six TV news trucks parked in his yard. Gov. Jeb Bush suspended Winton from office. "My wife struggled with it the most," Winton says. "She was totally embarrassed and humiliated."

What followed gives even more credence to Winton's description of the incident. The following May, prosecutors reduced the charges to misdemeanors and allowed Winton to plead no contest. He only had to finish an anger management course, avoid drinking during two years of probation, and pay $2,289 in court costs.

The next month, new governor Charlie Crist cited "behavior unbecoming of an elected official" and barred his return to office. Winton cites a conflict. He notes the head of the local police union, John Rivera, was a leader in Crist's campaign. Rivera is an enemy of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle — a close friend of Winton's — and had advocated for Winton's banishment.

Greene has retired, Winton says. Before suing Winton last month, a lawyer for Murias requested $150,000 "just to keep this quiet," Winton adds. He refused to pay. In the four-page lawsuit filed April 14, Murias cited the kick in the groin as causing multiple problems including "loss of earning ability and aggravation of a preexisting condition." His attorney, Alex Alvarez, denied hush money was demanded, and pointed out Winton had admitted kicking the officer. "This is what happens when you drink and you get stupid," he says.

Since then, Winton says he has learned Murias waited three days before seeing a doctor — which raises questions about the damage done by the kick. Winton expects the whole matter to go away. He went into business with local real estate developer and friend Philip Blumberg last year. (Like Winton, Blumberg has had run-ins with the law that were at times exaggerated.) He'd like the past to be forgotten and says, "I'm done with political office. That is, unless I get hit by lightning."

Does he regret the whole affair? "I could have handled this differently. There were bad choices that I made, and I've had to live with that. But I didn't cheat or steal. I got in a fight while on business at the goddamn airport."

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