Last week, the Miami Gardens Police Department fired Sgt. Javier Romaguera, a cop with a long history of unethical and arguably illegal behavior.
Hired in 2006, he was accused three years later of filling out a bogus police report, saying he had street contact with a man who was actually in jail at the time. The next year, he was caught making another inaccurate police report. His reputation for fudging the truth eventually became so bad that the State Attorney's Office stopped using him as a witness and refused to prosecute cases in which he was the sole arresting officer.
Finally, in July 2016, surveillance cameras captured footage of an on-duty Romaguera entering a hotel room with a mentally ill woman who said the sergeant groped her and refused to let her leave. After the woman filed a complaint, the police department quickly put him on desk duty.
Fresh off his recent termination, Romaguera is now suing Miami Gardens for unfairly disciplining him. Conveniently, the lawsuit makes no mention of the sexual misconduct investigation. Instead, Romaguera claims he was discriminated against and "treated differently because he is a Cuban male."
Romaguera's attorney, Shawn Birken, did not respond to a phone message from New Times. Miami Gardens spokeswoman Tamara Wadley declined to comment on the case, citing a policy regarding pending litigation.
Romaguera contends he was twice unfairly chastised by interim police Chief Cynthia Mechanic. On March 22, 2016, he says, Mechanic took issue with his decision to reprimand a subordinate instead of writing a report. Then, on July 22, 2016 — about two weeks after the hotel room incident — Mechanic chewed him out for violating the chain of command when he emailed the internal affairs division with concerns about a new officer who had joined the force, Romaguera claims.
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Shortly after these events, he was placed on a 90-day "performance plan" and reassigned to
"[Romaguera] was discriminated against due to his national origin (Cuban) and his sex (male)," his complaint alleges.
As of now, Romaguera is still facing a lawsuit from the mentally ill woman who says he fondled her in 2016. The then-23-year-old was running into traffic when someone called
Attorneys for Miami Gardens have not yet responded to Romaguera's discrimination complaint in court. His lawsuit asks for attorneys' fees, back pay with interest, and damages "for his mental anguish and humiliation."