The call came in to Miami Beach Police early on a Monday morning two years ago: An MBPD sergeant, the witness said, had gotten hammered while working off-duty at Mango's Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive. Police arrived to find Sgt. Mike Muley in such bad shape he had to be taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center for treatment.
Muley was later fired over the incident. Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates said the cop had "terribly embarrassed" the department. Oates also changed off-duty policies for Beach cops after the incident.
But now Muley might soon have his job back after an independent arbiter has ruled that MBPD must rehire him.
"The arbitrator ruled that the city had just cause to discipline Sergeant Muley. In order for Sergeant Muley to be reinstated, he must complete a series of conditions imposed by the arbitrator," says Melissa Berthier, a spokeswoman for the City of Miami Beach. "If he fails any one of the conditions, he will not be reinstated."
Still, the result might tough to swallow for Oates, who took over as MBPD chief after a long run of embarrassing incidents by police. Muley was also involved in another of those cases. He was demoted for his role as a supervisor the night two other Beach officers went joyriding on an ATV with women attending a bachelorette party at the Clevelander. The joyride ended up seriously injuring two tourists on the beach.
Before those two incidents, Muley had been an exemplary officer. The 14-year veteran had twice won high honors. In 2002, Muley jumped into a murky canal near his Davie home and rescued two people whose car had crashed into the water. He received the Medal of Valor and was named officer of the year.
Three years later, he earned a second Medal of Valor for helping to subdue a 300-pound Oakland Raiders offensive lineman going berserk in a fight with other officers.
But Muley's career sank after the ATV incident and then his drunken night at Mango's in July 2014.
After an eight-month internal affairs investigation, Oates fired Muley March 13, 2015. The chief said, "This officer terribly embarrassed the police department and all his peers, as well as the entire city of Miami Beach.”
One day after the incident, Oates stopped allowing officers to work off-duty at Ocean Drive nightclubs. Six weeks after that ruling, he reversed his decision.
Following Muley's firing, Chief Oates released a video from inside Mango's that showed the officer with a drink in his hand.
Oates also released hundreds of pages of internal affairs reports, showing exactly what Muley had ordered that night.
But Muley immediately promised to fight his firing. His attorney, Eugene Gibbons, told the Miami Herald: "I guess the chief wanted to flex his muscles. But this is going to backfire on them... Mike is dealing with serious medical and personal issues. He went to the hospital because of illness, and he was hospitalized for five days and had emergency surgery to his abdomen. I’m confident when we get in front of an unbiased arbitrator, Mike will be reinstated.”
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Gibbons was right. The attorney says the department didn't properly consider the circumstances surrounding Muley's drinking that night at Mango's.
Gibbons says Muley's reinstatement is contingent upon two factors: First, he must agree to enter a rehab program for an admitted alcohol abuse problem, and second, he has to be declared medically fit to return to duty.
"To his credit, Oates has taken measures to help individuals within the department who admit to having an alcohol or similar problem," Gibbons says.