Following Alleged Crash Coverup, Two Miami Cops Are Slated for Termination

Miami Police Department Deputy Chief Ronald Papier (left) and his wife, Cmdr. Nerly Papier
Miami Police Department Deputy Chief Ronald Papier (left) and his wife, Cmdr. Nerly Papier Photos via Twitter/MPD
A husband-and-wife duo of high-ranking Miami Police Department (MPD) officials has been recommended for termination following an investigation into allegations of official misconduct and a crash coverup.

Yesterday, the MPD's internal affairs division served Deputy Chief Ronald Papier and his wife, Cmdr. Nerly Papier, with disciplinary paperwork recommending that their employment be terminated, police spokesperson Kenia Fallat has confirmed to New Times.

The Papiers were investigated after an encrypted email was sent to newly appointed Police Chief Art Acevedo last month alleging that Nerly Papier crashed an MPD vehicle while driving under the influence and called her husband to help cover up the crash.

Late last month, the MPD told New Times the Papiers had been suspended with pay pending an internal investigation. At the time, the police department would not divulge what led to the investigation. But today, Fallat confirmed that the investigation was "related to their involvement in a non-injury vehicular crash and the administrative handling of the crash."

According to the encrypted email — sent by someone using the pseudonym "Bill Schahwartzman" — Nerly Papier drove the vehicle to MPD headquarters on April 2 with two tires blown out rather than reporting the crash immediately and leaving the car in place. Ronald Papier allegedly called Capt. Javier Ortiz — the politically powerful former police union president — to attempt to have the vehicle towed under the false pretense that it had been vandalized. The email claimed that a sergeant wrote up a crash report on the incident without inspecting the vehicle or taking photographs and that a police major signed off on it without proper review.

According to the crash report, which was obtained by New Times via a public-records request, Nerly Papier said she swerved to avoid another vehicle and hit a curb, puncturing both right tires and damaging the vehicle's rims. The report states that the crash occurred at 9 a.m. but wasn't reported until 1:45 p.m. One photo that began circulating among Miami political insiders showed a damaged vehicle matching the description of Nerly Papier's vehicle in the MPD headquarters parking lot, although the crash happened a few blocks away.

The delay in reporting may have constituted a violation of departmental procedures. The MPD says its members "shall promptly notify their commanding officer of any injury or accident with any departmental vehicle or equipment operated by them or in their possession."

The recommendation for termination does not mean the Papiers have been fired just yet. Fallat, the MPD spokesperson, tells New Times the final disposition on the Papiers' terminations is pending. When the internal affairs division recommends an officer be terminated, the chief of police and city manager must sign off on the firing before it goes through, according to Miami Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) president Tommy Reyes.

Because of that, the full investigative file is not yet considered a public record, and New Times has been unable to independently verify any of the claims in the encrypted email.

Reyes tells New Times the recommendation for termination is extraordinary for the MPD because of the Papiers' ranks.

"In my recollection, we've never had a case where we've had staff members [above captain] recommended for termination," he says.

If the termination goes through, it would be the first high-profile firing by Acevedo, who said last month that he planned to fire at least ten problematic cops and reform the department.

Ronald and Nerly Papier did not respond to phone calls and text messages from New Times requesting comment this morning.
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Joshua Ceballos is staff writer for Miami New Times. He is a Florida International University alum and a born-and-bred Miami boy.
Contact: Joshua Ceballos