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Opa-locka Police Sergeant Sues City Claiming Retaliation Over Department Criticism

Opa-locka Police Sgt. Sergio Perez spoke exclusively with NBC 6 by phone Wednesday

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An Opa-locka sergeant who has been in the news before is taking legal action against the city and its former police chief.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, Opa-locka Sergeant Sergio Perez claims he’s been retaliated against for bringing to light what he says is the mismanagement of the department. 

In an exclusive interview with NBC 6, Perez said that —despite being under the microscope before — he has done his best to help residents since his hiring in 2008.  

“Simply said, I have served the city tirelessly as a police officer for the last 14 years in many capacities in a profession that I have loved from my early childhood,” Perez said. 

NBC 6 spoke with Perez over the phone Wednesday because he is on medical leave from the department and couldn’t leave his home.

Perez made news before when a car he was pursuing went onto I-95 the wrong way and four people died almost a decade ago. He was fired but he got his job back after he claims video evidence showed he never followed the car onto the highway.  

Then, in January, he turned himself in after the Miami-Dade State Attorney charged him with misdemeanor battery for firing a training taser on another officer in September. Perez entered a not guilty plea. 

The lawsuit alleges Perez was demoted unfairly after the taser incident and retaliated against him after he told supervisors the department was wasting residents' tax money.  

“The filing of this suit was the last resort for me and the only choice I had given the circumstances,” Perez told NBC 6.

Brian Pollock is Perez’s attorney. 

“He went outside of his job and started complaining about financial waste by the former chief of police and he spoke out about that,” Pollock said. 

Perez claims the city wasted $53,000 on a computer document system and never auctioned off confiscated items resulting in monthly storage fees. 

 “Unfortunately there seems to be a culture in the city of ignoring its rules, ignoring its policies, and retaliating against people who try to do right by the residents,” Pollock said. 

The lawsuit also says the department suspended and then demoted the former captain from his position before the internal affairs investigation into the taser incident was completed.  

“Sergio then you know was involved in an incident and immediately thereafter he was suspended without any kind of due process,” Pollock said.

Pollock shared a photo with NBC 6 which shows a camera in the room where the taser incident allegedly happened and a report from a polygraph expert that concluded Perez was honest when he said he didn’t aim or try to shoot the taser at the then sergeant, who is now the department’s interim police chief. 

Perez told NBC 6 what happened has also cost him his job at St. Thomas University where he taught criminal justice.   

Perez is currently working in the city doing code enforcement. He told NBC 6 he is seeking to get his captain’s bars back and back pay. In the big picture, he said he wants the Opa-locka police department to be smart about its policing. 

NBC 6 reached out to the city of Opa-locka about the lawsuit and Perez’s allegations.

In a statement, the City Manager James Wright wrote, “The City of Opa-Locka recently received the complaint. However, the document has not been reviewed. As a result, we are not in a position to comment at this time.”

NBC 6 also tried to reach the former police chief through the city but we haven’t heard back. 

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