The Miami city manager is now investigating a dispute between an elected city commissioner and a code enforcement officer who found the commissioner at an illegal bar in Allapattah after the COVID-19 curfew.
The city has a midnight curfew to limit group gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
While working as a code enforcement officer, Suzann Nicholson reported to her superiors Commissioner Alex 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.
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.
The video is from the perspective of a police officer supporting Nicholson in code enforcement. Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla is brought over by the unlicensed bar manager in the video wearing a mask. The commissioner appears calm and is not seen on video pushing Nicholson.
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 says 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 to NBC 6 in a statement.
NBC 6 reached out to Nicholson’s attorney and has not yet heard back. Her attorney defended her side of the story to the Miami Herald earlier in the week, saying Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla was poking her causing her to step back and roll her ankle on the February night.
Why was the commissioner there at this unlicensed event past the COVID-19 curfew in the first place? In a statement earlier he told NBC 6 he was supporting business in his district.
Friday evening, City Manager Art Noriega announced he was launching an investigation into what happened.