Former Miami Beach Police Chief Speaks Out About Racist, Offensive Emails
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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The man who served as the Miami Beach police chief while his high ranking officers sent offensive, inappropriate emails is speaking to CBS4 News.
He says he knew of some of the emails, but didn't realize the extent of the problem.
This scandal, could potentially lead to the dismissal of hundreds of criminal cases. Around 240 emails exchanged by 16 officers led to a forced resignation and a firing.
"I took the action I thought was appropriate with the information I had at that time," former Chief Ray Martinez told CBS4's Natalia Zea.
CLICK HERE To Watch Natalia Zea's Report
Martinez said he knew some of his officers had sent out offensive emails from department computers. He said he even received some pornographic pictures from his Major Angel Vazquez.
"At that time I went and spoke with him directly and advised him to cease and desist his actions," said Martinez.
But he said he never saw the racist emails, and those mocking domestic violence victims and making light of child abuse. The emails he did know of, most of a sexual nature, he felt were too old to dredge up.
"I had felt I already dealt with it, that the organization had already dealt with it and moved forward. I felt the matter was closed at that point," he said.
Current Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates feels differently.
"I can't tell you how angry we are," Oates said at a news conference with State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle Thursday afternoon.
Chief Oates reopened the issue and fired Lieutenant Alex Carrulo, and forced Major Vazquez to resign.
"The material was explicit, and disgusting and there was a high volume of it," said the chief.
Zea asked Martinez whether he tolerated a "locker room culture" as Fernandez Rundle indicated.
"No, absolutely not. But the truth is unfortunately there is some of that," said Martinez.
This email scandal is just the latest incident to plague this department.
Earlier this month a detective was suspended for punching a handcuffed woman in the face and then kicking her in the head.
Another officer was fired after he was caught on camera getting drunk at his off duty security job.
And then there was the ATV incident, during which an officer went for a joyride with a bachelorette and ran over two pedestrians.
The State Attorney may criminally charge Vasquez for allegedly emailing out the autopsy photo of the man shot to death in a car in 2011.
When he took over for Martinez, Chief Oates promised to overhaul the department. Going public with this scandal may just be the beginning.
The offensive emails have spurred the state attorney to review 540 cases, mostly misdemeanors in which the officers involved in this scandal are witnesses. If they find bigotry played any kind of role in the arrests, the cases could be dismissed.
If this all sounds familiar, it's because this exact thing happened in Fort Lauderdale recently – and so far more than 30 criminal cases have been thrown out in that city.
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