Shaq is doing it again! The seven-foot-one former Heat center strolled into a Doral City Council meeting yesterday to glad-hand and take photos with the staffers and then revealed his real reason for coming: He's applying to be a reserve officer with the town's police force, which is run by his old buddy, former Miami Beach Police chief Don De Lucca.
As always, the media has treated it as a lark. Officer Shaq! How quickly we forget how his last stint as a part-time Miami cop worked out -- namely with an ugly, ongoing civil lawsuit by his former IT guy accusing him of abusing his power as an officer to try to frame him in a child porn case.
The former superstar center has long been a police groupie, nabbing reserve spots with a smattering of forces around the country dating back to his time playing in Phoenix.
In Miami, his benefactor has been De Lucca, who gave him a reserve spot after his 2004 trade to play for the Miami Heat.
Even his application to be a cop was troublesome, with the police union's president telling Riptide at the time that "he would have been instantly disqualified" if he were a normal guy applying for the job.
In addition to some hilarious answers to questions -- his answer to the "skills" question was simply: "Laptop computer, binnochulars [sic], master of surveillance" -- Shaq also played loose with the facts. Here's the key piece from our story about that file:
- He responded "no" when asked if he had ever been the subject of a police investigation. That's debatable. In 1998, Shaq was accused of choking a woman at Disney World. No charges were filed, but here's a line from the Orlando Sentinel at the time:
"Kim Grant, 23, showed up Friday morning at the Orange County Sheriff's Office after failing to return investigators' telephone calls for weeks."
Call us crazy, but we have an old adage: When there are investigators, there's an investigation.
- Shaq claimed that neither he nor his spouse had ever sued anyone or had been sued -- which would be a miraculous feat for a celebrity of his stature. According to a quick public records search, Shaq had been named as a defendant in two suits in his resident Orange County, Florida alone.
- He also claimed he didn't have savings or checking accounts, any investments, or an automobile.
According to Basketball Reference, Shaq made $27.7 million in playing salary that year.
You could say there's something almost ironic about Shaq's mistruths in the application. You know, like: Hey, he's Shaq -- of course he had a checking account.
Or you could say Shaq clearly fibbed on his application to be a cop and the MBPD didn't bother to correct him.
Even more troubling were accusations that hit O'Neal in 2011. That's when Shaq's former IT guy -- a felon named Shawn Darling -- lobbed a civil lawsuit at the star claiming he'd abused his police connections to get even with his enemies and then tried to frame Darling for child porn.
Shaq has vehemently denied the claims, with his attorney noting at the time that "Shawn Darling is a convicted felon who has attempted to extort millions of dollars from Shaquille O'Neal... The allegations in his lawsuit are false."
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But according to Miami-Dade's court docket, the case remains open as of this month.
The bigger question, of course, is whether any force should let an outsize basketball star play at being a cop in a time of such trouble for local police. For Don De Lucca, the answer is apparently eternally yes.
(Riptide left a message with Doral PD requesting comment on Shaq's application to be a cop, but we haven't heard back yet.)