Former Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo has filed a lawsuit against the city, three commissioners and the city manager claiming he was fired as retaliation for reporting alleged corruption and wrongdoing by the officials.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, names commissioners Joe Carollo, Alex Diaz De La Portilla and Manolo Reyes, as well as City Manager Art Noriega and the city itself.
The suit claims commissioners used police resources to carry out "personal agendas" and that when Acevedo reported the alleged misconduct to Noriega, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, the FBI and the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, the commissioners pressured Noriega to suspend Acevedo before the commissioners voted to fire him.
The commissioners "weaponized city resources against perceived enemies, impermissibly issued and/or dictated orders to Chief Acevedo and the MPD, and interfered with Chief Acevedo and MPD operations," the suit claims.
The suit cites the closing of popular bar Ball & Chain, claiming its owners were targeted by city code enforcers because they'd supported a political opponent of Carollo.
The lawsuit also claims that commissioners interfered in the investigation of a veteran police officer who had been suspended by Acevedo.
Carollo said Wednesday that Acevedo is "lying through his teeth." He said the lawsuit is rehashing his same claims of corruption from last year.
"He had lied," said Carollo. "They were not true."
Reyes said in a statement that they "look forward to handling this matter in court."
"It is extremely unfortunate that Mr. Acevedo has chosen to sue the city of Miami and its elected officials for his own shortcomings as a police chief," he said in a statement.
Diaz de la Portilla has not yet provided a comment on the lawsuit.
Interim police chief Manny Morales said his predecessor failed at his job.
"I think he is just a disgruntled individual and came here with his own personal agenda," Morales said in a statement. "And when things didn’t go his way, he started creating a narrative that fit his failure in his ability to lead the Miami Police Department."
In a statement Wednesday about Acevedo's lawsuit, City Attorney Victoria Méndez said they "disagree wholeheartedly that there any basis for his claims. We look forward to defending this lawsuit in court."
Noriega also released a statement in response to the lawsuit.
"This was expected and I look forward to the opportunity to discredit these false claims made by the former Police Chief," Noriega's statement read. "It’s clearly an attempt to retaliate against the individuals that held him accountable for his own shortcomings as Miami Police Chief and to attempt to salvage his professional reputation by casting blame on others."
Acevedo's short and stormy tenure as the city's top cop began in April 2021 and ended six months later with his firing in October 2021.
At the time of his firing, Noriega had cited specific reasons, including Acevedo's alleged failure to report personal and or vacation time, using offensive language against somebody at a public protest, and the action plan that Acevedo had turned in regarding the department's future that Noriega had been deemed deficient.
Acevedo began making waves almost immediately after he was sworn in in April by taking over internal affairs and making significant changes to his command staff. He demoted four majors and fired two high-level police officials — a married couple — because they weren’t truthful about a crash involving a city-issued SUV.
Commissioners also said they were deeply offended when reports emerged that Acevedo talked to officers about a "Cuban mafia" that runs the city. Acevedo later apologized, saying he didn’t know that was a term former Cuban leader Fidel Castro used to refer to exiles.
At two raucous meetings before his firing, commissioners attacked Acevedo and his leadership, appointing themselves to an investigative committee with subpoena power to examine his appointment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed the Broward State Attorney's Office to look into Acevedo's allegations of corruption in Miami, after the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office recused themselves, the Miami Herald reported.
NBC 6 obtained the memo sent from State Attorney Fernandez-Rundle to the governor writing she had a conflict of interest because one of her legal advisors had a brother who could be an important witness in the case.
The city's own investigation into the allegations is "ongoing," according to the city attorney.
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