A code enforcement officer suing Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla for allegedly poking her while she was investigating a party held after COVID-19 curfew hours has been fired.
In a statement, City manager Art Noriega said Suzann Nicholson did not cooperate with the administrative investigation and “the city has terminated the employee for insubordination, effective immediately.”
In February. Nicholson reported to her superiors Diaz de la Portilla poked and pushed her when she confronted him at the unlicensed after-hours bar on the night of February 21. Records from the city show Nicholson didn’t put the complaint in writing until two weeks later.
Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla strongly denied this happened and, through his attorney, he released two 25-minute videos from police body cameras showing no altercation or physical confrontation between Diaz de la Portilla and Nicholson.
Get South Florida local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC South Florida newsletters.
A police report from the night of the incident did not mention the altercation but only that Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla was present. Diaz de la Portilla also points to Nicholson’s first email to superiors about the incident, not mentioning any altercation or injury.
Then, on March 8 she wrote “during the poking and pushing I lost my footing and although I didn’t fall I assumed I was okay. Since then I have been having issues with my left hip and I would like the incident documented.”
Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla told NBC 6 earlier this year that Nicholson should be fired from the city for the allegation.
“If a picture is worth 1,000 words then a video is worth a million. There is no substitute for the truth and Ms. Nicholson was clearly lying. This video proves there’s not an ounce of truth to her story. A fraudulent workman’s compensation claim is not a reason to try and ruin someone’s good name,” Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla wrote in a statement.
Nicholson filed a libel lawsuit against the commissioner, claiming her superiors in the city ordered her to cover it up before the city then launched an internal investigation.
Her attorney responded in a statement saying, in part, the firing, “shows the city’s bad faith and sends a clear message to employees: 'protect the politicians' or you’re going to get fired.”