Embattled Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito announces he has turned over to the FBI evidence of Mayor Tomás Regalado's attempts to stop a raid on illegal gambling. The two former allies have been locked in a ugly war of words as Exposito is under pressure after six fatal police shootings in black neighborhoods.
The name calling is beginning to get real personal in the war of words between Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and the city's top cops.
Fresh off Regalado's statements calling Chief Miguel Exposito and his police brass liars, Exposito responded with a few salvos of his own during a press conference.
The chief, who was appointed by Regalado, painted the mayor as paranoid man who has started the feud at the detriment of the community. He told reporters that the press conference was mean to end the "long drawn out novel" between the two city leaders.
Regalado claims Exposito has become so hellbent on intimidating his former friend that he has the mayor under police surveillance. Exposito denied that Friday.
That claim comes after serious allegations from Exposito's command staff that the Mayor tried to interfere with a police operation last year. Exposito said he has got the FBI involved to see if the mayor shoudl be investigated.
The fallout between Regalado and Exposito goes back to last October, as cops closed in on illegal gambling machines throughout the city.
That's when high-ranking police officials, including Miami PD Major Alfredo Alvarez, say the mayor stepped in and demanded they stop the raids.
"He violently told me to stop, that he knew what he was doing," said Maj. Alvarez.
The mayor's request was denied and hundreds of illegal machines were confiscated and numerous arrests were made.
"He would have given the organized crime industry of illegal gambling machines time to go out and pick up all the machines from the street and then when my officers go back on the operations, they wouldn't find the machines," said Alvarez.
Exposito also detailed the mayor's alleged interference in a letter to federal law enforcement last week.
"These allegations are really bad," Regalado said Thursday night, admitting that he had asked that they be postponed. "That's not true, I never asked the city manager to stop. I was concerned about the municipal election, two commissioners and one issue, and I said 'can't they just wait one or two days?'"
Regalado claims Exposito and his department are trying to keep their jobs and deflect criticism following a recent spate of police-involved shootings throughout the city.
Exposito told NBC Miami earlier this week that the shootings are being investigated but that he can't discuss the ongoing investigations.
Regalado says the community is fed up with the Chief and that the latest allegations are a smoke screen.
"They are lying," he said bluntly. "This to me is a distraction to difuse the situation that the police and the city has in the African American community."
Maj. Alvarez says he thinks he mayor might be distorting things.
"I'm really confused as to what are the issues," said Alvarez. "What are they talking about 'crime is rampant'? what are they talking about 'the community's in an uproar'?"
Also on Thursday, reports surfaced that Exposito might be attempting to bring obstruction of justice charges against Regalado, and Regalado told the Miami Herald that he believes he is under surveillance by Miami Police.
Exposito later denied that claim through a spokesman.
"The Miami Police Department is not following the mayor or members of the commission," Exposito said.
When asked whether the mayor should be investigated for corruption, Maj. Alvarez didn't hesitate.
"I think he should but I can't do that investigation," he said. "I believe obstruction of justice, I believe that we have a state and federal charge but I cannot investigate it."