Miami Beach to Fire Police in Gay Harassment Case; Charges Pending for ATV Cops?
Two Miami Beach cops accused of assaulting a gay tourist in Flamingo Park are getting pink slips -- even though prosecutors declined to file charges against them. Officers Elliut Hazzi and Frankly Forte are set to be fired, Commissioner Michael Gongora announced on his Twitter feed this afternoon.
The two Beach cops who were already fired earlier this month after a drunken ATV joyride injured two beachgoers, meanwhile, might just be facing criminal charges. The State Attorney's Office has called a press conference for tomorrow afternoon to "update" its case.
Hazzi and Forte are at the center of a civil lawsuit filed by the ACLU last November against the MBPD.
The two cops were allegedly beating and kicking a handcuffed man near Flamingo Park in early 2009 when Howard Strickland, an openly gay former Beach resident, walked by on the way back to his hotel.
Strickland dialed 911, and tapes of his calls show his dismay as he too is arrested by the officers. The pair allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs at him -- part of a larger problem of anti-gay harassment by the force, according to the ACLU.
Prosecutors in April declined to file charges against the pair, but the city has evidently decided Strickland's case is strong enough to boot the cops off the force.
"After much urging, the city is initiating termination proceedings," Gongora tells Riptide. "After reviewing the evidence independently, it was obvious they were acting outside the bounds of their duties."
Officers Derick Kuilan and Rolando Gutierrez, meanwhile, were already fired July 5. Kuilan seriously injured two beachgoers when he hit them with his ATV while joyriding with a woman he'd picked up at the Clevelander.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow afternoon to "announce recent developments" in the case. Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega is also scheduled to attend.
Could criminal charges be headed their way? We'll update when we learn more.
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