North Miami Beach Cop Accused of Santeria Birdseed Plot Fired

Officer accused of Santeria plot against city manager fired

By Brian Hamacher
|  Monday, Dec 5, 2011  |  Updated 2:05 PM EDT
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Cop Accused of Santeria Birdseed Plot Fired

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A woman drops coins in front an altar for Santeria.

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A veteran North Miami Beach cop accused of taking part in a Santeria practice against the city manager was officially fired by him Monday.

Officer Elizabeth Torres, a 24-year department veteran, was terminated by City Manager Lyndon Bonner for conduct unbecoming of a police officer, according to a city news release.

Torres didn't attend a pre-determination hearing that had been scheduled for Monday for her to plead her case to Bonner, instead sending a two-page written response from her union attorney, Aaron Nisenson.

"The effect this action will have on the community, Police Department, and Officer Torres and her family are substantial and unnecessarily excessive," the letter said.

The letter added that Torres is the mother of four children, had 17 commendations in her police career and was two years from retirement.

"I don’t make a final decision until such time that I have all the facts, and that final decision was made today," Bonner said in the city release.

Torres and office manager Yvonne Rodriguez had been accused of targeting Bonner with birdseed, which they believed to be part of a Santeria practice.

The two had allegedly planned to scatter the seeds in and around Bonner's city hall office in August. The alleged plan was concocted after Bonner had planned to cut the police budget, but was discovered after Torres and Rodriguez asked a janitor to help sprinkle the seeds, and the janitor turned them in.

Torres allegedly told investigators that they weren't trying to hurt Bonner, just get him to "leave the police department alone."

"We are debating the act of spreading commonly purchased birdseed; an act which was only ever discussed, never followed through with, discussed off-duty, and did not involve any ill will threat, or harm," Nisenson's letter said.

Rodriguez had been fired last month.

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