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Miami commissioners vote to fire police chief Art Acevedo

Miami commissioners vote to fire police chief Art Acevedo
Art Acevedo was terminated as chief of police of the Miami Police Department on Thursday night. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Officials in Miami unanimously voted Thursday night to fire chief of Miami police Art Acevedo, bringing an end to his tumultuously six-month tenure as the city's top cop.

The five commissioners voted at Miami City Hall to accept City Manager Art Noriega's recommendation to oust Acevedo following a more than four-hour quasi-judicial hearing.

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After the hearing, an emotional Noriega read a prepared statement in which he thanked those who supported him.

"I want to tell all of you on the department and on the community, stay the course. Fight the good fight," he told reporters. "After 35 years of policing, this is not the outcome I wanted for myself, my family, the department or for this community."

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The hearing was held days after Noriega suspended Acevedo with intent to fire him, stating his relationship the city "has become untenable and needed to be resolved promptly."

Acevedo was hired six months earlier from Houston where he was the chief of police since 2016, but during his short time in Florida he had angered commissioners by posing for a photograph with a member of the Proud Boys, referred to those who led the city as the "Cuban Mafia" and demoted four majors.

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He also accused commissioners of interfering with internal affairs investigations and was said to have lost lost the confidence and trust of the rank and file.

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Acevedo did not speak during the hearing nor did his defense present witnesses as evidence as they objected to the proceedings.

Attorney John Bryne who defended Acevedo told the commissioners that they believed hearing's outcome had already been decided and that the setting was unfair.

He argued that Acevedo's firing was decided Sept. 24, the day his client sent an eight-page memo to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez accusing three commissioners of interfering with an international affairs investigation and efforts to reform the department.

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"He was suspended because he had the courage to do what many of us don't have the courage to do: To speak truth to power," Bryne said.

In her closing statement, Stephanie Marchman, the attorney for Noriega, countered that there was "substantial, competent evidence" to approve the chief's removal.

She said Noriega had given eight reasons why he should be fired and under the city's charter any one of them would have been sufficient for termination.

The memo, she said, "was not the basis for [Noriega's] decision to suspend the chief."

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She said Noriega asked Acevedo to produce an action plan and once he received that earlier this month "he knew that it was time to move on because the chief failed to recognize or acknowledge what the issues were."

She quoted the action plan's cover letter in which Acevedo wrote that he thought his first six months had been "successful as it relates to operations, crime fighting, employer relations and community relations."

"How is this city manager able to help the chief move forward with respect to this department and effectively lead the department if the chief, himself, does not recognize or acknowledge that there's problems? she asked.

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