Last Monday, federal agents nabbed a former Miami Beach police officer, Jose Quintana, for illegally selling guns over the course of three years at various Florida gun shows. And as you would expect from an ex-cop who broke the law, Quintana's record with MBPD wasn't exactly sterling.
According to employment records obtained by Riptide, Quintana was suspended and disciplined numerous times during his nine-year career, and was accused of excessive force after breaking up a nightclub fight in May 1999. In fact, he was almost fired in 1996, before a last-minute intervention on the part of then-police chief Richard Barreto. Quintana ultimately lost his job in September 1999.
Quintana, who was hired in March 1990, first ran into Internal Affairs in 1995 after MBPD investigated allegations that he was doubling up off-duty security work and police shift work. Further digging showed that Quintana repeatedly ditched court assignments, including failing to report as a witness. In all of those scheduled court appearances, Quintana's logs showed that he arrived late but still collected overtime on the appearances. Later questioning revealed that Quintana couldn't remember any of the cases for which he'd allegedly been present.
That investigation, which was concluded in November 1996, led Barreto to recommend that Quintana "be terminated from the police service," according to a memo sent to then-assistant City Manager Joe Pinon. The memo noted that Quintana "has accumulated a number of Internal Affairs complaints," that his "behavior and conduct was disappointing," and that he "violated the public trust." That memo was filed on December 5, 1996, but three weeks later, Barreto sent a new memo rescinding his recommendation that Quintana be fired. Instead, Quintana was to be given a 45-day suspension without pay and a six-month suspension from all off-duty work. As his reasoning, Barreto wrote that he'd come to his decision after "further review of the facts and a discussion with Officer Quintana." No further details were provided in the memo.
Attempts to contact Barreto for this story were unsuccessful. Quintana declined to comment.
That near brush with unemployment didn't slow down Quintana, though. In a memo from the Human Resources Department of MBPD to Quintana dated November 9, 1998, he was accused of "an on-going pattern of violating Miami Beach Police Department policy and disregarding supervisory directions." That included more failures to show up to court cases, as well as an apparently self-initiated and undisclosed drug bust using a confidential informant . All those charges added up to another suspension, this one for a week.
The final straw came in 1999, the same year that Quintana was accused of bloodying two men in a tussle outside Shadow Lounge. On May 1 of that year, Quintana was involved in breaking up a fight between Richard Perez and Ilan Asiiag, during which he struck both men with his fists, elbows and his collapsible ASP baton. Both Perez and Asiiag required stitches to close their cuts, which they said came courtesy Quintana's nightstick. Those claims couldn't be proved, in large part because neither Perez nor Asiiag followed up with MBPD. But just as concerning to Quintana's superiors was his initial claim to other officers and in his arrest report that he hadn't used force to subdue the two men. Quintana, however, later tried to change his reports to reflect his baton-happy ways. As he later admitted to Internal Affairs in a taped interview, "I proceeded to strike indiscriminately at both subjects." He also noted that his fatigue made him vulnerable, as he had "just consumed two-thirds of a large pizza and became nauseated in the middle of the fight."
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Internal Affairs found in August of that year that Quintana had lied to his superiors and lied on his arrest report about the Shadow Lounge flight. The next month, Quintana was canned.
In a final interview with MBPD before his firing, Quintana complained that "he felt that for a long time he has been a marked person." In response, he was told "that his perception of being marked may have derived from the fact that due to so many disciplinary problems, he was being more closely monitored than other problem free employees."
Quintana is still awaiting trial on his gun-running charges from last week.