In November 2017, Officer Adrian Santos of the Miami Police Department was ripped out of the downtown Miami nightclub E11even and given a drug test. He claimed in a subsequent lawsuit he had no idea why. But in January 2018, the rationale became clear: Prosecutors said Santos had been caught on camera snorting cocaine inside the 24-hour self-described "ultraclub" filled with topless dancers.
Generally speaking, the Miami nightlife scene is, ahem, tolerant when it comes to cocaine use, but cops are held to a higher standard because they spend their days arresting people for this exact sort of misconduct. Santos' wrongful-termination suit against the city is still open, but activist and documentarian Billy Corben today obtained video footage through a public-records request that shows Santos clearly snorting something that night at E11even before security led him away. (The music, to clarify, is courtesy of Corben.)
#BREAKING: Newly released video of @MiamiPD Officer Adrian Santos snorting cocaine at E11even strip club and getting caught by bouncers; he was arrested for possession 2 months later, fired and his criminal case is still pending #BecauseMiami. Background: https://t.co/jMRAuSWkeR pic.twitter.com/yQxORq86wk— Billy Corben (@BillyCorben) March 5, 2020
Santos was charged with cocaine possession, and the criminal case remains open, though he has pleaded not guilty. The ousted officer also has a pending civil case claiming the city violated his rights by firing him for the incident. In an amended complaint filed this past December, he argues that the city violated the Florida Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights — a long list of labor protections given to cops that critics say lets problem officers remain employed.
Santos claims in his lawsuit that after he was escorted out of the club at 2:30 a.m. November 18, 2017, his fellow Miami Police Department (MPD) officers prevented him from immediately calling a lawyer, interrogated him without a lawyer present, transported him to Jackson Memorial Hospital, and allegedly forced him to give blood and urine samples for drug tests.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Santos says Jackson Memorial doctors refused to perform the tests because the department did not have a warrant to take bodily-fluid samples. Instead, Santos says, MPD drove him to Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. Doctors at that hospital agreed to take samples of his blood and urine. According to Santos, two MPD officers then drove him home and tried to enter his house without a warrant. Santos also claims cops tampered with evidence during the arrest.
Santos' lawyer, John Cunill, tells New Times Santos is suing because his labor rights were violated when MPD forced him to take a drug test. Cunill says the video is irrelevant to Santos' argument that MPD broke its own rules in firing him.
"I don't know what it goes to in terms of proving or disproving anything," Cunill says. "Just because there's a video out there, that doesn't mean that [MPD] procedure was or wasn't followed... There's a reason [Miami cops] have contractual rights, and we want to make sure they were adhered to. He still has his due process and his right to challenge what happened."
In court documents, however, the city paints a different picture of the situation. According to the Miami Police Department's current labor contract, any officer who refuses to take drug tests off-duty is immediately suspended without pay pending termination. The city says it fired Santos December 10, 2018, and believes it was correct to do so.