- Arbitrator's report ordering reinstatement of Miami Beach Officer Eliut Hazzi
- Hear Harold Strickland’s emergency phone call to Miami Beach 911
- Miami Beach settlement with Harold Strickland
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez on Tuesday met at City Hall with members of the mayor's LGBT Business Enhancement Committee, to discuss the reinstatement last week of Officer Eliut Hazzi.
Hazzi and Officer Frankly Forte were fired last year after allegedly bashing two gay men near Flamingo Park in 2009. Early December, independent arbitrator M. Scott Malinowski reinstated Hazzi. Forte's case still hasn't been heard.
Martinez told about a dozen LGBT committee members that Hazzi hasn't yet been assigned patrol duty.
“He’s in retraining," Martinez said. "He’s been out of work for about 16 months and for a little bit more than a year before that he was on desk duty, so about two-and-a-half years almost that he hasn’t been on the street. there’s a lot of police retraining we have to do with him. We’re also going to do, obviously, sensitivity training and a lot of hands-on training before he gets released back to normal duty."
Martinez said he plans to have a "one-on-one" conversation with Hazzi.
"Our goal, obviously, is to make sure he understands the new direction of the police department, where we are going, what is acceptable moving forward."
The police chief stands by the department's Internal Affairs investigation of Hazzi and Forte.
"The arbitrator’s ruling deals with discipline. It does not change the facts of the Internal Affairs investigation," he said. "We do not change our findings. That stands in the permanent record. Obviously the arbitrator’s decision is part of that record now. The arbitrator did rule that he should receive a written reprimand as discipline for being unprepared to testify in court."
Martinez said he hopes the Forte arbitration brings different results.
"As far as the other officer, Officer Forte -- and when you look at the case, Officer Hazzi, if there’s one more guilty than the other in wrongdoing, Officer Hazzi I think had a lesser role in the whole incident," Martinez said. "It was more Officer Forte that took the aggressive action. Officer Forte’s arbitration has not even been scheduled yet."
Though unhappy Hazzi has been reinstated, most LGBT committee members hope the case leads to improved relations with the police department.
"These are the facts," said committee chairman Ivan Cano, executive director of Miami Beach Gay Pride. "We have an opportunity to continue to educate the community and embrace the situation as it stands and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
"How are we going to do that? We ask, if it’s possible, that Officer Hazzi, when he is reinstated and on patrol, that he start spending time with members of our community, with nonprofit organizations, seeing exactly who he is dealing with and all the community members. We have to turn it into a positive," Cano said.