Officer faces firing over Santeria plan

Dec. 1, 2011 at 3:17 PM
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NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A Florida police officer is arguing to keep her job after she and another city employee planned to use a Santeria practice to change the city manager's mind.

North Miami Beach Police officer Elizabeth Torres is scheduled to plead her case Monday before City Manager Lyndon Bonner. She and office manager Yvonne Rodriguez allegedly tried to recruit a City Hall janitor in August to sprinkle birdseed in and around Bonner's office as part of a Santeria practice aimed at changing the official's mind about cutting the city's police budget, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.

Torres, who was turned in by the janitor, said the practice, which she learned from family members, was only meant to help Bonner change his mind, not cause any physical harm.

"I want to clarify, that it's nothing malicious and nothing intended to hurt that person," she said.

"As misguided and ridiculous as it may seem, this idea popped into my head and I thought, 'Well, it can't hurt anybody," Torres is quoted as telling investigators. "I do regret that it came to the city manager's attention and may have made him nervous or afraid."

Rodriguez has been terminated by the city and Bonner said in a letter to Torres he is "considering terminating your employment with the city."

North Miami Police Chief Larry Gomer recommended Torres receive a formal letter of reprimand and a 240-hour suspension.

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