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Miami Beach to fire two cops who beat, falsely arrested gay man at Flamingo Park

By DAVID SMILEY AND STEVE ROTHAUS, dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com

The two Miami Beach police officers accused of yelling anti-gay epithets at a tourist, kicking him and falsely arresting him after he called 911 to report them beating a man in a South Beach park are going to be fired, according to city officials.

On Monday, City Commissioner Michael Góngora said he was told by Miami Beach’s city manager that the city intends to kick officers Frankly Forte and Eliut Hazzi off the police force.

“I was personally disgusted by the actions taken by them and have been pushing the city administration quite some time to commence termination proceedings,” he said.

Babak Movahedi, president of Miami Beach Gay Pride, said he was glad the gay community “stood strong” and pressured Beach officials to take action.

“It sets a precedence that you can’t discriminate against anyone and get away with it. [Forte and Hazzi] tried to cover it up and arrested the guy. It’s an abuse of power,” Movahedi said. “Kudos to the city. They’ve taken it seriously. ... This gives you a prime example that if the community is together and speaks with one voice, that anything can be accomplished. When any community member is discriminated, we should not stand for it. And we did not.”

Though the alleged incident involving the officers happened in early 2009, the announcement that the city plans to fire the men, who would be the third and fourth Miami Beach police officers fired this month, comes on the heel of a seven-week stretch in which Miami Beach police have been involved in two controversial incidents.

On Memorial Day, 11 officers — seven from Miami Beach and four from Hialeah — shot more than 100 rounds during a fatal, videotaped shooting of a driver on Collins Avenue who is accused of trying to run over police and may have been shooting from his car.

Then on July 3, Officer Derick Kuilan — one of the officers who fired his weapon during the Memorial Day shooting — crashed his ATV into a man and woman on the beach, seriously injuring both. Kuilan was on-duty and allegedly partying with another officer, Rolando Gutierrez, at the Clevelander before hopping onto his ATV with a woman he met at a bachelorette party.

Mayor Matti Herrera Bower has said Gutierrez was drinking that night, but police have not said whether Kuilan had alcohol in his system.

Both Kuilan and Gutierrez were fired. On Monday, the state attorney’s office said it will hold a Tuesday afternoon press conference with Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega in which new details about the crash will be released.

Gene Gibbons, attorney for both Kuilan and Gutierrez, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Forte and Hazzi have been under investigation by Miami Beach Internal Affairs and prosecutors since The Miami Herald reported on the alleged March 2009 beating and wrongful arrest of Los Angeles resident Harold Strickland in February 2010.

Strickland, a former Beach resident, said that about 1 a.m. March 13, 2009, he was visiting South Florida and wanted to see his old neighborhood. He walked past Flamingo Park near 14th Street and Michigan Avenue and said he saw two guys beating a man and kicking him in the head like "a football."

Strickland called 911, realizing as he described the beating that the two assailants - with guns, walkie-talkies and handcuffs - were undercover police officers.

For nearly five minutes, Strickland spoke with a 911 dispatcher until he said the two men were "coming after me!" The men, later identified as Forte and Hazzi, approached Strickland and can be heard on the recording asking him why he is there, where he lives and if he has identification. Then the line went dead.

Strickland, who according to state attorney’s office documents said the two officers repeatedly called him “fag and faggot,” was arrested for loitering and prowling, but the charges were dropped.

Oscar Mendoza, the man Strickland says the two officers were beating, was arrested that night. Prosecutors later dropped charges of resisting arrest without violence.

After a nearly year-long investigation, prosecutors also declined to press charges against Hazzi and Forte, saying there was insufficient evidence to prove the officers’ guilt to a jury. Instead, they suggested Miami Beach police take “appropriate action.”

City Manager Jorge Gonzalez said Monday that the two officers will be told why they are being fired in a hearing scheduled for Aug. 1 and will have a chance to fight for their jobs.

After the state attorney’s office closed the criminal investigation, Forte and Hazzi were brought back to the police station and assigned to administrative duty. In November, the ACLU of Florida filed a complaint in federal court against Miami Beach and the two officers individually. Strickland is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.

ACLU spokesman Derek Newton said his group is pleased the officers will be fired.

“It’s a very satisfying outcome, assuredly, to demonstrate clearly that officers who violate the public trust and engage in misconduct will be subject to consequences,” Newton said. “We think that’s very positive and encouraging. We hope that it sets a standard for other communities in the region and state in addressing police misconduct.”

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Kudos to Harold Strickland for standing up for whats right

I was a victim of the same type of attack around the same time in 2009. Officers that attacked me were Rosa Olivo, Mirko Vasilievich, and Joseph Hart. They followed me to the beach from the car and just went psycho on me with tazers, handcuffs, yelling and swearing, making her search my underwear over and over while laughing and degrading me. They didn't even care if I was gay or not. They wanted me to be gay, they planned this. Guess these perverts wanted show her how to gay bash a single male while no one is around. It was early morning at 87th terrace by the beach, a place where according to them gay men hang out. These sadistic homophobes still work at Miami Beach police and make $100K salaries.

Through out the complaint process, i was constantly intimidated by their internal affairs officers and their captain. Officer Kimberly Chin was pretty much in charge of the cover up and delayed the process as long as she could... There was this crazy captain Hyde, who was later replaced with a lesbian captain because of the Stricklands' case, yelled at me on the phone that I can not dictate to them what to do. They ended up assigning the case to an officer that was a part of the case, the one that penciled in the made up charges. Total conflict of interest! You can imagine what a waste of time this was. Complaining about this criminal organization is impossible. After the Strickland's case became public, they added more gay people to the positions of power. Captain Hyde was replaced by a lesbian captain to make it look like they are gay friendly. I just hope that people don't fall for this. This is something that a mob would do to defuse the attention. The only way to deal with Miami Beach is through FBI or a massive lawsuit. The lesbian captain of the internal affairs just stopped replying and the openly gay commissioner Mike Gongora never even acknowledged my requests to investigate the Internal Affairs cover up. Don't waste your time with them, they are just as corrupt. Connect with federal and state investigators ASAP!

The city of Miami Beach is a clear example of extreme corruption in America, financed by the residents and tourists of Miami beach for decades. It's nothing but a cesspool of connections, thugs and bullies, overpaid officials and fake gay leaders.

I was a victim of the attack in the year of 2007 when I went to buy some bread in Starbucks in Santa Monica and San Vicente in West Hollywood. I was arrested falsely and assaulted and found nothing and then they left me go. I was humiliated. Aliens Cops.

If you were ever attacked and/or abused by Miami Beach Police officers Rosa Olivo, Mirko Vasilievich, Joseph Hart, Sgt Caroline Chin, Sgt Rey Aguilar or others that currently work there and who overstepped their privileges, contact FBI Color of Law http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/civilrights/color_of_law

You pay these criminals $100K salaries while they abuse their power and are religiously corrupt. The MBPD Internal affairs process is corrupt and makes no sense... Still file a complaint with Internal Affairs so you can show FBI and DOJ that you tried, but don't waste you time with them, instead spend you energy to craft a good complaint to the FEDS.

If you have lots of money than just get a good attorney and sue them hard! Make their life and the lives of people they breed and feed hell!

Sure kudos for standing up, but it costs at least $10K to get any legal help if you wanna fight these corrupt criminals. These kind of cases cost a lot of money and the overpaid criminals in MBPD and at the city know it and that's why these problems with police will not go away unless everyone is fired and the beach and park ordinances are changed back, and a new civilian investigation board is created.

REY AGUILAR IS A SGT ON THE MIAMI BEACH POLICE FORCE WHO HAS COMPLAINTS ON HIM EXPANDING 20 YEARS. HE IS ALWAYS BACKED UP BY HIS LONG TIME FRIENDS OVER AT INTERNAL AFFAIRS. IN THE EARLY 90'S HE WAS UNDER COVER, BEATING SUSPECTS UP AND FORCING THEM TO TALK. HE HAS RAPED MULTIPLE DRUG ADDICT WOMEN BY EITHER FORCE, OR PLANTING DRUGS ON THEM AND PROMISING TO LET THEM GO FOR SEX. IF YOU COMPLAINED ON HIM, HIM AND HIS BUDDIES WOULD THEN SEEK YOU WITH A VENGEANCE AND CONTINUE TO BEAT YOU UP AND PUT CHARGES ON YOU AS IF YOU HIT HIM, AND HAS GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT FOR YEARS. DURING THE 90'S DESPITE MULTIPLE COMPLAINTS AND ACCUSATIONS, HE WAS PROMOTED TO SGT. THE MIAMI BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT IS ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPTED POLICE FORCE IN THE COUNTRY ALONG SIDE WITH THE CITY OF MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT.
THAT'S: REY AGUILAR

THINGS WILL CHANGE IF WE START A PETITION AND PASS A LAW THAT TAKE POLICE ACCUSATIONS OUT OF THE HANDS OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND TURNS IT OVER TO THE FEDS, AND THE OFFICERS FACES SERIOUS CHARGES AND LIFE SENTENCES PLUS BIG FINES THAT WILL TAKE ALL THEIR ASSETS AND TURN IT OVER TO THE VICTIMS. WE NEED TO DO THIS BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW, AND SO FAR IT SEEMS THAT THEY ARE. WE NEED TO SEND A MESSAGE AND LET THEM KNOW THAT THEY WORK FOR US THE TAX PAYERS.

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