Ex-Miami Beach cop Adam Tavss kills two, gets caught with drugs, and earns a nice payout
Kill two men in four days under shady circumstances. Get caught with drugs in your system and suspended from work.
Walk away from it all with $17,242.46.
Not a bad deal, right?
That's exactly how much Adam Tavss, a former Miami Beach cop, earned from taxpayers when he quietly resigned from the police force in late November amid an indefinite suspension over a failed drug test.
Family members of the two men Tavss shot while on duty last June are fuming that city rules didn't prevent the wayward officer from earning his full payout from unused vacation and sick time and from his pension fund.
"It's wrong all the way around," says Samer Shehada, whose brother, Husein, was shot and killed by Tavss. "I'm happy he's not a police officer anymore, but he shouldn't be earning money on the way out."
Det. Juan Sanchez, a Miami Beach PD spokesman, declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations into the shootings.
Ramiro Inguanzo, director of human resources for the City of Miami Beach, says the payouts are standard for any police officer. "Legally, you're entitled to be paid for unused time, even if you're terminated for cause," he says.
Tavss's fall from grace began June 14, when he confronted Samer and Husein — tourists from the Washington, D.C. area — outside Twist nightclub on Washington Avenue in South Beach. A surveillance video captures the two brothers raising their arms and turning toward Tavss, who then blasts Husein to death.
Police later said the brothers were looking to pick a fight and that they appeared to have weapons under their shirts. But no guns were found at the scene.
Four days later, Tavss was back on duty. Before his first shift was over, he shot dead Lawrence McCoy Jr., a 28-year-old semi-homeless man who allegedly stole a cab and drove the wrong way on the MacArthur Causeway. Tavss said McCoy was armed, but again, no weapon was found at the scene.
Miami Beach PD stood behind Tavss, a 34-year-old with three years on the force. But his credibility took a hit when his personnel file showed that a female colleague accused him of using cocaine at a Christmas party in 2007.
Then, in September, Tavss failed a drug test for marijuana. Chief Carlos Noriega suspended the officer indefinitely.
On November 20, Tavss, who earned a $56,833.66 salary, submitted his resignation. When he left, he picked up $3,092.34, before taxes, for 80 unused hours of annual leave and 51 hours of sick time. Another $14,150.12 came from his pension fund.
Lawyer John Contini, who represents the McCoy and Shehada families, says Tavss's resignation won't stop a civil suit against the police department for the deaths.
"The Miami Beach PD... failed to run a proper background check, failed to properly train him, failed to supervise him, [and] failed to discipline him," Contini says. "Firing one trigger-happy cop won't cut it."
Adds Autumn Romero, McCoy's sister: "We want criminal charges."
Tavss's lawyer, Gene Gibbons, didn't respond to a call or an email requesting comment.
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.
- Bill Advances That Would Ban Red Light Cameras in Florida
Thu., Feb. 11, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 7:30pm
Sat., Feb. 13, 6:00pm
Sat., Feb. 13, 7:00pm
- Facebook Killer Derek Medina Gets Life in Prison, Vows to Sue Entire World
- Marco Rubio's Friend Didn't Know About Gay Porn House, Site's Owner Says