Miami Beach Police Promote Cop Who Pulled Gun on Colleagues in 2007

In 2007, then-Miami Beach Police Capt. Richard Weissman stood inside a Miami Beach hotel room, preparing his fellow officers for a prostitution sting. According to a later Miami Herald report, Weissman began tossing heated questions at the other cops, including "What if a prostitute comes in and tries to rob one of you guys?" and "What if when the prostitute enters the room, she locks the door?"

Weissman then left the room and barged back in with his handgun drawn at the other officers. "What are you going to do now?" he asked.

Of course, pulling a gun on fellow cops is both a bad idea and one that violates departmental policy. So Weissman was disciplined, ordered to attend firearms training, and then later demoted to lieutenant.

As of today, however, he's been promoted back to captain.

According to a police department memo New Times obtained, Police Chief Dan Oates announced Friday: "I am pleased to announce that effective Monday, January 23, Lieutenant Richard Weissman is promoted to captain."

According to Oates' memo, Weissman runs Miami Beach Police's internal affairs unit. In a statement emailed to New Times, Oates says he believes Weissman's gunslinging ways are behind him.

"The incident years ago was a training exercise involving an unloaded firearm," Oates wrote. "It could have been handled better. Captain Weissman was counseled by the chief at the time. After that, he served with distinction as a captain for five years under a prior chief. I have every confidence that he is the right choice to be a captain now."

But given both Weissman's history with handgun problems and MBPD's larger history of internal affairs slipups, the move is certain to upset criminal-justice-reform advocates.

For one, Weissman's conduct in 2007 did not exactly inspire loyalty in his colleagues. As it turns out, Weissman had unloaded the gun and placed a wire tie through the weapon to prevent it from firing. But after Weissman entered the room, reached into his fanny pack, and whipped out the gun, the other cops preparing for the sting said they were terrified. At least one was a longtime officer.

"If he was trying to prove a point, he definitely got the point across and scared me," a veteran detective, whose name was not released because he works undercover, told internal affairs Sgt. Elbys Camacho, according to the Herald report.

Also, MBPD's internal affairs unit doesn't have a stellar reputation at the moment. The department has taken a host of criticism for letting Det. Philippe Archer remain on the force despite having been sued at least five times in federal court for use-of-force incidents. Archer infamously was caught on tape beating a 115-pound woman and also was accused of beating up a Good Samaritan who tried to stop the beating.

Law-enforcement-reform advocates have since questioned why the department's "early warning" system, which is designed to weed out bad cops, didn't notice all the lawsuits in Archer's past. (It's unclear how long Weissman has been running internal affairs.)
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.