Crime

New Details Shed Light on Rumor That Miami Police Tried to "Kidnap" CJ Gimenez After De La Portilla Slap UPDATED

A man identified as Miami police detective Stanley Paul-Noel (bald) tussles with Carlos "CJ" Gimenez outside Morton's the Steakhouse in Coral Gables as captured on the city's CCTV footage on February 9, 2022.
A man identified as Miami police detective Stanley Paul-Noel (bald) tussles with Carlos "CJ" Gimenez outside Morton's the Steakhouse in Coral Gables as captured on the city's CCTV footage on February 9, 2022. Screenshot via Coral Gables Television/YouTube
Editor's note: This story has been corrected and updated. Scroll to the end of the article for the new information. Original story:

It was the "The Slap Heard 'Round the County": Carlos "CJ" Gimenez allegedly assaulted Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla while the latter was lunching at a Coral Gables steakhouse in February, landing the son of U.S. Rep. Carlos A. Giménez in the slammer overnight.

Gimenez was charged with one count of simple battery in the February 9 incident, a charge he's disputing the charge in county circuit court.

But five months later, there's a new development in the case.

According to the latest agenda from Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), Diaz de la Portilla's sergeant-at-arms, Miami police detective Stanley Paul-Noel, is under investigation for allegedly attempting to kidnap Gimenez and take him to Miami police headquarters. 

The July 21 CIP agenda states that a complainant identified as John Flaherty "called the CIP office requesting an investigation into why Sergeant at Arms Paul-Noel is escorting Commissioner De La Portilla during lunch at a Coral Gables restaurant. It further alleges that "Mr. Flaherty stated that it was his understanding that the Sergeant at Arms and Commissioner De La Portilla were trying to kidnap Mr. Gimenez from Coral Gables and bring him to Miami PD."

The CIP is an independent watchdog group that investigates allegations of police misconduct.

Reached by New Times, Gimenez declined to comment, citing his pending court case. But a filing from that case, which New Times obtained via a public records request, alleges that a Miami police officer entered the cell where Gimenez was being held and attempted to take him away. According to the document, filed in the form of a motion to depose witnesses, Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak had to intervene.

"In most all [sic] circumstances surrounding a simple battery[,] the case is referred to the State Attorneys [sic] Office for review or a Notice/Promise to Appear is issued," reads Gimenez's July 18 motion, a copy of which is attached at the end of this article. "Rarely [do] such episodes give rise to a physical arrest and incarceration. Even rarer does law enforcement seek to take custody of the arrestee away from the agency with jurisdiction. Here, Mr. Gimenez[,] held in custody by the Coral Gables Police Department[,] was escorted outside his holding cell and handcuffed by a Miami Police officer to be transported to the city of Miami[,] for what reason one can only speculate...."

The motion seeks to question De La Portilla's lunch companions, stating that they were eyewitnesses to the incident but did not provide in-depth statements to police (or in Paul-Noel's case, were not interviewed at all in the initial investigation).

The Incident

On February 9, Diaz de la Portilla was lunching at Morton's Steakhouse with a handful of local political figures, including lobbyist Carlos Lago (brother of Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago), former Miami Commissioner Humberto Hernandez, and Paul-Noel, his sergeant-at-arms.

Gimenez allegedly approached Diaz de la Portilla while he was sitting at a table, called him a "pussy," and then "struck" Díaz de la Portilla on the "side of the head with an open hand," according to a Coral Gables Police Department (CGPD) arrest report. (Diaz de la Portilla later described the slap as a "cowardly" flick of the wrist.)

City-owned closed-circuit TV cameras captured parts of the incident. One clip showed Paul-Noel approaching Gimenez after the encounter, speaking to him briefly, and then tackling him to the ground before Coral Gables police arrived and took him into custody.

In the hours after Gimenez's arrest, rumors swirled that the Miami Police Department (MPD) had unsuccessfully endeavored to forcibly extradite Gimenez to Miami, despite the fact that the entire tussle occurred in Coral Gables. Former Miami Herald reporter Elaine De Valle speculated on her website, Political Cortadito, that there was video of the attempt.

De Valle wasn't able to track down the video, but she did obtain a text exchange between MPD Chief Manuel Morales and Coral Gables Chief Hudak, wherein Hudak said he forbade Morales' men from taking Gimenez. Morales replied that there had been a miscommunication and Coral Gables would handle the case. As events eventually played out, Gimenez was transferred to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, a Miami-Dade County facility, and released the following day.

Two days after the dustup, New Times requested any and all footage of Gimenez inside his Coral Gables cell. In acknowledging the request, the city noted that other media outlets had submitted similar requests.

Earlier this week, having heard nothing for more than five months, New Times inquired about the status of the records request.

CGPD public information officer Sgt. Alejandro Escobar responded that the records could not be released pending an internal affairs investigation by MPD into one of their officers that was related to the incident. Asked for details, Escobar said he could not say which officer.

New Times subsequently sought comment from CGPD regarding the allegations in Gimenez's motion to depose witnesses. This story will be updated with any response.

CIP director Cristina Beamud tells New Times that the panel will conclude its investigation into the complaint after MPD completes its internal affairs probe.

Correction published 7:45 p.m. 7/22/2022: As originally published, this story indicated that the CIP complaint alleges that Sergeant-at-Arms Stanley Paul-Noel was the Miami police officer who handcuffed CJ Gimenez at Coral Gables police headquarters. Though the CIP complainant claims Paul-Noel was involved in an attempt to kidnap Gimenez from Coral Gables, the complaint does not state that he was the officer who handcuffed Gimenez at police headquarters. Moreover, Gimenez's recent court filing does not identify that officer by name. The above version of the story reflects the corrected text.

Update published 12:45 p.m. 7/29/2022: CGPD public information officer Kelly Denham tells
New Times she has reviewed the video, which has not yet been released to the media, and can confirm that an MPD officer attempted to transport CJ Gimenez from his cell.

Denham says the video shows an MPD officer entering Gimenez's holding cell at CGPD headquarters, handcuffing him, and walking him out of the cell. The officer then received a phone call and, after a brief conversation, took Gimenez back to his cell and uncuffed him, Denham says. She adds that the video does not include audio of the phone conversation and that she cannot confirm the identity of the MPD officer.
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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