What to Know
Charles Kinsey was shot in 2016 in North Miami as he was attempting to retrieve a patient who has autism who wandered from his group home.
Police officials were heavily criticized in the shooting that was captured on video.
The latest lawsuit argues an officer was demoted because he would not take part in possibly illicit demands made by officials.
The fallout over the highly controversial shooting of an unarmed man with his hands in the air continues. Now another former top officer in North Miami is suing the city and the current police chief.
He still serves as an officer but he is no longer a top official.
North Miami Sergeant Neil Cuevas says after four decades serving, the thanks he got when he stood up and did the right thing over the shooting of Charles Kinsey, was a big demotion and trip from the command staff back to a patrol car.
Cuevas and his attorney Michael Pizzi filed their legal action in Miami-Dade Court and it says North Miami violated Florida law in retaliating against Cuevas for doing what he thought was right.
We located Cuevas heading home from his shift Monday and he told us: "I love this City and I love the citizens of this City and I want to continue serving the great people of this city," Cuevas said.
He had been the number two person in the department but was demoted to Sergeant this year.
Cuevas joined the department back in 1975 – North Miami’s longest-serving officer. The City says its been completely fair to him, is paying him more than the union contract requires, and that the new chief has the authority to pick his command team – nothing personal.
The lawsuit is seeking Cuevas get his command job back and back pay. it also asks for $4 million.
Cuevas said, “ I can’t speak and I can’t make any comments about the case and I apologize for that but and I just love serving the city and the citizens and I want to continue doing that.”
His attorney, Michael Pizzi, says North Miami retaliated against him because he was a whistleblower and disagreed with an internal report concerning the actions of Emile Hollant – the commander on the scene the day Kinsey was shot.
Hollant was terminated and the department said he wasn’t honest about his whereabouts. Hollant told us he didn’t do anything wrong and the Miami-Dade State Attorney cleared him on their end. North Miami was investigating to see if any city rules were broken.
But Cuevas wrote a memo saying “The Disposition Panel did not prove any... evidence to support its findings. Its findings are replete with misinformation, half-truths, and blatant Inconsistencies."
Pizzi says, “Neil Cuevas was demoted because when he was the assistant chief of the department, he said that the department was engaging a miscarriage of justice and the department was fabricating allegations against a commander to reach a predetermined outcome. “
Last year, NBC 6 exclusively obtained the then police chief’s interview with FDLE about the Kinsey shooting.
Gary Eugene is heard telling investigators, “Clearly in my experience, the scene was a mess, to be honest with you. People walking all over the place. Thank God the gentleman did not die.”
Eugene sued too after he was fired. Cuevas’s lawsuit says his reputation has been damaged Cuevas says this naturally is an emotional thing for him.
North Miami hadn’t been served with this latest lawsuit when we spoke with them and they have a policy of not commenting on pending litigation, so they can’t directly address Cuevas’s allegations. What is public record shows they didn’t fire Cuevas, and placed him in an available sergeants position.
The other lawsuits stemming from the Kinsey shooting, and the criminal case against officer Johnathan Aledda are working their way through the courts. He’s entered a not guilty plea.