Miami Beach Cop Under Investigation For Drinking In Squad Car

Welcome to the job, Ray Martinez! Less than a year after an on-duty Miami Beach cop drunkenly plowed into beachgoers on his ATV after partying with bachelorettes at the Clevelander -- an action that blackened the end of previous chief Carlos Noriega's career -- new jefe Martinez is investigating claims first reported by Random Pixels that another cop was drinking in his squad car last weekend.

The details are still fuzzy, but Martinez says MBPD is "vigorously pursing information." Random Pixels is identifying the officer as Michael Veski -- a cop earlier implicated in a drunk driving incident involving another Beach officer.

Juan Sanchez, a Miami Beach spokesman, declined to confirm whether Veski is the target of the IA probe, citing the "open investigation." Riptide also asked Veski to comment on the allegations through Sanchez; we haven't heard back, but we'll update this post if we do.

Here's what Random Pixel's sources tell him: Over the weekend, a Miami Beach squad car nearly collided with a postal inspector's vehicle. The off-duty officer -- allegedly Veski -- was in the cruiser's passenger seat, drinking a beer, the source says.

Martinez tells the Miami Herald that the accusations come not from the postal worker but from a "third party," and that IA investigators haven't been able to reach the worker yet to corroborate the story.

"We haven't been able to confirm the allegations yet," Martinez tells the paper. "We're two parties removed."

The allegations are an ugly echo of last year's infamous ATV crash, in which then-Officer Derrick Kuilan seriously wounded two early morning Beach goers while joyriding in uniform. Kuilan and his partner had been partying with women at the Clevelander, and police say the cop later failed a blood test.

Veski, meanwhile, has had his own run-in with investigators. In 2007, he was implicated in then-Sgt. Jesse Barrenechea's drunken wrong-way crash on I-95.

Highway patrol investigators say that Veski and another cop tried to drive Barrenechea and his car home after he'd been drinking heavily, but that the sergeant demanded to get back behind the wheel halfway there.

He later ended up slamming into another car on the wrong side of I-95 and fleeing the scene. Veski refused to talk to FHP investigators until months later, then claimed to not remember anything of the night. The FHP investigator later concluded he'd "perjured" himself, the Miami Herald reported.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink