The North Miami Police Department is in a state of disarray. One of its officers, Jonathan Aledda, recently became the first Miami-area cop in 24 years to be charged for an on-duty shooting after Aledda's gunfire hit Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black behavioral therapist, in the leg while he was trying to help an autistic man.
In the aftermath of the shooting, Police Chief Gary Eugene told the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that his department was disorganized, plagued by infighting, and unable to handle basic things like securing the crime-scene after Kinsey was shot. He also claimed that cops tried to force a commander to lie to protect Aledda, and had attempted to frame a fellow commander, Emile Hollant, by pretending he'd lied to chief about what he'd witnessed.
Now, City Councilman Scott Galvin has confirmed to New Times that Eugene has been placed on administrative leave and will be fired in three weeks, on July 7. Eugene had earlier confirmed to New Times that City Manager Larry Spring had asked him to step down today, but did not offer any more details.
"It was an offer," Eugene said via phone today, audibly groaning when asked whether he'd been fired outright. "I cannot talk about it more than that." A police spokesperson declined to comment, and a city spokesperson did not answer an call from New Times. City Manager Larry Spring also did not immediately answer a call today. Eugene said he was discussing the ordeal with his lawyer.
Galvin and a separate city source confirmed some of the parameters of what Spring handed to the chief: They said the city placed Eugene on administrative leave, told him not to have any contact with the police department, and offered him a severance package. Eugene has 21 days to accept the deal, but will be fired regardless.
Galvin told New Times via text message that he supports the firing.
The move further escalates the shenanigans coming out of North Miami PD this week. The chief has actually been out on pre-approved medical leave for the last two weeks. But the cop put in charge — Assistant Chief Larry Juriga — is the same cop Eugene accused of framing Hollant, the commander.
Yesterday, with the chief gone, Juriga used his powers as acting chief to issue Hollant his termination papers.
"It's pretty obvious they're hiding something," Hollant's lawyer, Michael Joseph, told New Times yesterday.
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Juriga is now the acting chief for the time being.
But Eugene also contradicted himself in separate interviews after the Kinsey shooting. In a sworn statement to FDLE, he claimed that Hollant was innocent. But then Eugene told his own Internal Affairs investigators that Hollant "absolutely lied" to him about whether he witnessed the Kinsey shooting that day. It's unclear which of the two statements Eugene gave is actually true.
Rios Soto, the autistic man caught in the middle of the shooting, has also sued the City of North Miami, claiming that investigators detained him and violated his civil rights on the chief's watch after the shooting occurred.
This is a breaking story. This post will be updated.