Ex-MDPD Cop In Excessive Force Lawsuit Was Fired After Skipping Emergency Calls, Attacking Reporter
Last week, we reported on a lawsuit accusing two Miami-Dade officers of excessive force in an arrest outside a Kendall nightclub in 2010. As it turns out, one of those officers, Jose A. Huerta, was recently fired after 10 years on the force. Turns out his firing, had nothing to do with lawsuit. Instead, Huerta got the boot for allegedly failing to respond to several emergency dispatches in 2010, including a sexual assault and a child trapped in a car.
Even worse, those charges came just months after Huerta was disciplined for using the Department of Motor Vehicles' database to look up personal information on the boyfriend of a fellow cop. Two years before that, Huerta was reprimanded after a news reporter said he'd grabbed him by the neck to force him away from a crime scene.
Riptide wasn't able to get in contact with Huerta to comment on this story, but his personnel file lays out a clear picture of why the cop was canned.
According to a disciplinary action report filed on April 12, 2012, Huerta failed to respond to at least 10 dispatches between September and December 2010. In many of those cases, Huerta later falsified information on his daily activity report, to make it look as if he had cleared or responded to calls when he was instead taking meal breaks with fellow officers.
One day in particular -- October 5, 2010 -- Huerta ignored three separate emergency calls. First, he was dispatched to a call of a child locked inside a car in Coral Gables. Huerta, who was at Dadeland Mall, waited 10 minutes before even leaving to investigate. By then, a City of Miami officer had already taken care of things. That same day, Huerta failed to respond to a call of a suspicious vehicle, then reported back to dispatch to say that he had, despite surveillance evidence to the contrary.
Later that evening, after clearing a traffic crash in Coral Gables, Huerta ignored an emergency violent dispute call at the Cherry Grove Apartment Complex. Instead, according to the report, he went to a pizza place, then stood in the parking lot watching other units speed off to the scene.
On November 2, 2010, Huerta was 40 minutes late responding to a sexual assault claim in Coral Gables, having instead stopped for a meal at a nearby restaurant. A week later, on November 9, he took a dispatch for a suspicious person reported in front of a Winn Dixie. Huerta took the call, but when he got to the store, he parked his car and never got out. What's worse, according to the report, Huerta could see the suspect in front of the Winn Dixie, but never approached her.
Three other disciplinary reports appeared in Huerta's personnel file. In one, filed on March 19, 2012, Huerta was accused of using MDPD computers to access the DMV's driver information database. According to the report, on April 24, 2010, Huerta looked up info on the boyfriend of an MDPD female sergeant. The report also alleged that in September that year, the boyfriend asked Huerta to look up information on another person, which he did. Those searches originally landed him a three-day suspension, which was later reduced to a written reprimand.
In another report, which was issued on May 3, 2010, Huerta was disciplined for getting physical with a reporter. In June 2009, while working as a detail outside the house of a slain MDPD officer, Huerta went up to Marcel San Pedro, a local media member, and "grabbed him by the neck and left arm and walked him away from the area." That incident also got Huerta a suspension that was later changed to a written reprimand.
A September 2009 report concerned Huerta allegedly roughing up a disabled veteran at a Metrorail station. That charge landed him in legal trouble, as the victim, Ricardo Figueroa, sued the department and the officer for excessive force. That lawsuit was eventually dismissed, and his internal punishment was a written reprimand.
Huerta was terminated on orders of Major Delma Noel-Pratt of the Kendall District on September 21, 2012. The firing marked the end of a decade of service.
The current lawsuit against Huerta and MDPD remains open.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.