Miguel Exposito Suspended As Miami Police Chief By City Manager Johnny Martinez

That was quick! We were all set to start a "Miguel Exposito Firing Watch" at Riptide today after numerous reports surfaced on Friday that he was going to be suspended and possibly fired today. But City Manager Johnny Martinez beat us to the punch!

Moments ago, Martinez suspended Exposito after a closed-door meeting that included the chief's attorney. Next step for Martinez: Getting the City Commission to agree to can him.

In a memo, Martinez says the suspension comes because Exposito "failed to obey ... orders."

Specifically, Martinez says the chief stripped responsibilities from three staff members despite the manager's order to hold off on the demotions, and that Expo "disregarded" an order to reduce overtime costs through restructuring. You can read the full memo below.

Martinez also named Major Manuel Orosa as acting chief of police.

Whatever reasons Martinez cites, the truth is Exposito's suspension is just the latest and loudest broadside in a streetfight that's been raging between Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and his top cop for more than a year now.

The saga has included accusations from Exposito that the mayor has repeatedly interfered in police stings on maquinitas, the quasi-legal gambling machines whose owners heavily supported Regalado's campaign -- charges the chief repeated over the weekend in a letter seeking whistleblower protection from being sacked.

(He also accused the mayor of offering a $400,000 bribe if he'd "leave quietly" ... so much for that.)

On the chief's end, he's weathered a string of deadly police shootings in Overtown, Allapattah, and Little Haiti, an embarrassing reality show gaffe, a horribly botched corruption probe and an ugly tit-for-tat with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.

This battle isn't over yet -- to fire Exposito, Martinez will need the support of at least three commissioners. The wild card will surely be Michelle Spence-Jones, newly returned to power after her corruption case fell to pieces last week.

Stay tuned! We'll be the Soap Opera Weekly for this sordid daytime drama as it unfolds.

Update: Here's the full memo from Martinez. He notes that if the City Commission agrees with his reasons for the suspension, the chief will be immediately fired. If not, though, he gets his job back and the suspension is lifted.

Better hope you've got those three votes, Johnny!

Suspension - Police Chief

Update 2: Bill Cooke at Random Pixels has done some homework on Orosa, the acting chief while Exposito's fate is sorted out.

Orosa, a 31-year veteran in the Miami PD, was involved in a notorious 1988 case when a squad of Miami cops beat a drug dealer named Leonardo Mercado to death. 

Orosa wasn't on the scene of the beating, but he was the supervisor of six of the cops later charged in Mercado's death. He was suspended with pay in 1989 for failing to preserve evidence in the case, and later testified for the defense in the cops' trial.

Read more about that case and Orosa's role in it over at Random Pixels.

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