MIAMI — Miami city officials voted unanimously Thursday to dismiss police chief Art Acevedo after a short and tumultuous term in which he clashed with city officials and members of his own police force.
The five commissioners stepped in after a trial-like hearing in which they were criticized for offending Cuban-Americans and losing the trust of their officers, while his lawyer argued that the city’s politicians wanted him gone because he accused them of corruption.
Acevedo, who took office in April after leaving his job as Houston police chief, did not testify at the meeting. At the time Acevedo was hired, the mayor of Miami hailed the senior police officer as chiefs of police, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.
Acevedo’s lawyer, John Byrne, said at Thursday’s meeting that there was not enough time to form a case to properly defend Acevedo, with the meeting scheduled for four days after he was suspended by City Manager Art Noriega.
Commissioners said they had to vote on the issue within five days of receiving the notice, according to city rules.
“Based on what we’ve seen here today, it’s clear that the commissioners have no valid basis to terminate Chief Acevedo,” he said, adding that the city manager’s reasons were “absurd” and that the main reason was an eight-page justification. memo accusing city commissioners of involvement in the police department and internal investigations.
If Chief Acevedo could say anything that would make any difference, he would. It’s pretty clear what’s going on,” Byrne said.
Meanwhile, Noriega’s attorney, Stephanie Marchman, argued that Acevedo’s termination was just. He cited several reasons, including statements that he had lost the trust of police officers, and stated that the city was run by a ‘Cuban mafia’, a term used by former Cuban leader FIdel Castro to refer to exiles in Miami.
“Any of these reasons are enough to remove him from his post,” he said.