Three Homestead Police officers sworn to uphold the law have been fired for allegedly breaking it.
Homestead Police Sgt. Jeffrey Rome, Officer Giovanni Soto and Sgt. Lizanne Deegan were fired from their jobs Thursday after investigators said surveillance video showed instances of police brutality.
“It does not matter how small the allegation is or how large," Homestead Police Detective Fernando Morales said Friday. "It is an embarrassment to the police department, it's bad for camaraderie, it's bad for your fellow officers, never a good thing."
Investigators said surveillance video showed Rome pepper-spraying a Hispanic man outside Celio’s Latin Quarter Bar twice, then following him up the street and spraying him a third time. He is also accused of pepper-spraying a second man and assaulting a third.
Soto is accused of beating a Hispanic man outside the bar, when he punched him in the mouth and hit him again on the ground, according to investigators.
Deegan allegedly covered up the attacks and denied victims medical attention.
"You abused your power and preyed on those that you were entrusted to protect," Assistant City Manager Allyson Love wrote in the officers' termination letters.
Police union president John Rivera stood by his officers after their termination.
“We have been working with both the State Attorney’s Office and the Homestead police chief to bring to light the true facts of this case,” said Rivera, the leader of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, in a statement. “We have had issues with these cases and their substance since the beginning; however, we are continuing to work towards what we believe will be a positive resolution for everyone involved.”
Morales said the allegations were enough to fire the three officers.
“This is a decision that was merely made because of all the allegations, the department reviewed the allegations and came to this conclusion,” he said.
The officers face a variety of charges related to police brutality.
A trial date has not been set yet.