« Tropical storm Bertha moving toward Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic | Main | Inmate's request to be castrated is denied »

Facebook photo snares Hialeah cop

Cop sleep close
This photo of a Hialeah police officer, who appears to be sleeping, was posted on Facebook. (Mayra Rodriguez)

When eagle-eyed resident Mayra Rodriguez spotted a Hialeah cop sound asleep in his squad car, she snapped two photos with her cell phone and posted them on Facebook.

“Hello? This is our tax dollars,” said Rodriguez, 55, of Hialeah. 

The photo of Officer Francisco Hernandez, snoozing on duty, whirred amid the social media sphere until it landed on the screen of Hialeah Police Commander Luis Lahera.

Lahera, who said he saw the photos after a Facebook friends posted it on his page, shows an internal affairs report obtained July 30. Lahera then "deleted the photographs and notified the chief of police immediately."

When Chief Sergio Velasquez caught wind of the Facebook photo, he launched a major police investigation, which involved a bevy of personnel and reams of sworn testimony by three civilian witnesses and six police officers. 

Officer Hernandez was investigated for "improper procedure" for his actions, or inaction, while he slept in his parked cruiser near a Hialeah strip mall on February 14, 2013, where he was working an "extra duty assignment." 

Hernandez, who was represented by a Police Benevolent Association attorney, denied being asleep. 

Rodriguez, the witness who took the photos, told Internal Affairs “she could tell the officer was sleeping because he had his head back and his eyes were closed," the report shows. She was irked Hernandez did so “with the air conditioning on” and added that "she saw this same officer sleeping in his car once before."

The eight-week investigation included 22 "official records" documenting what took place including police photos of the parking lot at the 41st Street shopping plaza. 

The evidence, including 25 "finding of facts" were sent to Chief Sergio Velasquez who ruled that Hernandez violated the agency's extra-duty detail rule by working while on sick leave, as well as being inattentive to duty.

The penalty: Hernandez received a 10-hour suspension, or one day off, without pay.

More than one year later after Velasquez's decision, the city made the records available under Florida's public records law. The incident is no longer deemed an “active investigation.” 

Chief Velasquez’s did not return calls from the Herald seeking comment.

--- THEO KARANTSALIS

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Peter Kovas

So much for transparency at the city of Hialeah. Good job, Miami Herald.

More than one year later after Velasquez's decision, the city made the records available under Florida's public records law. The incident is no longer deemed an “active investigation.”

Walter

How can the PBA say the officer was not asleep. They are suppose to represent the members but not lie about it. Unions have gotten to the place where the members do no wrong.

Peter Kovas

@Walter: True. The community should also question why it took more than one year for this incident to be made public.

Tim

"Hello. This is our tax dollars." I doubt she contributed many tax dollars.

jomama

I have seen police meet for dinner at the place I was eating and all 7 squad cars left on and running outside...r

Carlo Travierso

I don't really have anything bad to say about the cops here, this is just being over worked and or laziness. The city is pretty safe, I been out there at least on the west side and some of the east side of Hialeah and Hialeah Gardens. Yes there are bad things but you can easily stay away from people who do things you don't agree with.

I run around the streets all over and the cops do a good job. This is not a defense of what the cop did though. Just a shame.

Lessie

Sergio Velasquez is just as bad as you can imagine. The officer did wrong but Sergio Velasquez has done worse! He has thrown away DUI papers from his mistress! He has done a lot of harm!

The comments to this entry are closed.