Opa-locka Cop Claims He Had a Heart Attack Because Black Officer Was Promoted Over Him

Photo by Tim Elfrink
Is it possible to be so angry about racial politics in the workplace that you give yourself a heart attack? A lawsuit filed this week makes that case: Opa-locka Police Officer Alexander Hernandez, a self-described "white Hispanic" male, claims he was so upset upon hearing that a "black American" officer was being promoted to major over him that the news quite literally gave him a heart attack.

"On or about September 30, 2014, Plaintiff suffered a heart attack on duty," reads the suit, filed April 11 in Miami-Dade County Court. "The heart attack occurred when a plaintiff was advised by his supervisor that Officer James Dobson (Black, American) was going to be hired as a major because Plaintiff was 'the wrong color.'"

Hernandez claims that Dobson — who is now the department's chief — was "continuously" promoted despite the fact that Hernandez had more educational and work experience. Instead, Hernandez claims, he was repeatedly demoted after taking leave to deal with his heart trouble.

When Dobson was promoted to major in 2014, Hernandez suffered an immediate heart attack, he says. "As a result of the heart attack, Plaintiff had to take leave for a period of time," the suit notes.

In 2016, he claims his pay was docked 33 percent while all other "non-Hispanic, non-disabled" persons were not given the same cuts. He says that after he complained, the department forced him to work night shifts. And in May 2017, he was fired "without cause," he says.

Hernandez is now suing the city for multiple counts of racial discrimination. (Opa-locka PD has not yet responded in court; Dobson didn't immediately respond to a message from New Times.)

This is not the first time a white or Hispanic Miami-area cop has sued or complained about black officers being promoted: Larry Juriga, who became chief of North Miami Police earlier this year, once filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint alleging that he was being discriminated against because he was an "Anglo" and that his colleagues referred to him as a "redneck." Last year, another North Miami officer, Patrick McNally (who is apparently Juriga's friend), also sued the department for "white discrimination." (A Hialeah cop in 2017 sued that city's police department for allegedly discriminating against him for being a man.)

Hernandez's suit doesn't explain if Opa-locka PD listed any other reasons for Dobson's promotion or Hernandez's demotions and eventual firing besides claiming the termination was due to department-wide "downsizing."