Attorney says North Miami police commander’s firing is a ‘set-up’

North Miami police Cmdr. Emile Hollant’s 25-year law enforcement career may soon come to a crashing end as part of the fallout from the universally denounced shooting last year of behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey.

Kinsey was shot in the street with held his hands high up in the air next to his autistic client Arnaldo Rios.

Hollant didn’t shoot Kinsey in the leg with a rifle.

That was Officer Jonathon Aledda, who has since been charged criminally with attempted manslaughter in the case.

Aledda apparently believed Rios was holding a gun when in fact it was a toy truck, something Aledda’s fellow officers had clearly announced on the radio prior to the shooting.

Even if Aledda, a SWAT team member, believed Rios was holding a gun, it made no sense for him to shoot Kinsey, who happens to be black. Aledda told fellow officers he was aiming at Rios and missed.

Hollant faces termination of his job for allegedly lying about whether or not he actually witnessed the shooting or not. He said he was initially on scene but that when the three shots were fired from Aledda’s gun, he was a block away grabbing his binoculars out of his vehicle.

It wasn’t until four days after the shooting that Assistant Chief Larry Juriga alleged that Hollant had lied about that and that he had witnessed the shooting.

When he told then-Chief Gary Eugene that he believed radio transmissions proved Hollant lied when he claimed he didn’t witness the shooting, the commander was suspended without pay.

The alleged chief culprit, Aledda, was suspended with pay, a fact Hollant backers contend proves the fix was in on Hollant from the beginning.

The radio transmissions show that Hollant, about two minutes prior to the shooting, said on the radio that it appeared Rios was “loading his weapon.”

But Hollant was more than 150 feet away. Officer Alens Bernadeau was closer to the scene and soon clarified that Kinsey was saying it was a toy.

He would also announce on the radio well before Aledda fired that he could see it was a toy.

“I have a visual, it does not appear to be a firearm,” Bernadeau said on the radio.

Hollant said that after Bernadeau announced Rios was holding a toy he decided to run to his vehicle and get his binoculars for a better look.

“I didn’t know what I had at the time, it could have been a hostage situation,” Hollant testified. “I did not know that the kid was autistic.  All I knew was there was a man with his hands up, did not know he was trying to prevent this guy from killing himself and something happened. When I heard, ‘It’s a toy, it’s a toy,’ I decided to run back to my vehicle so I could get my binoculars.”

It was while he was doing this, he said, that he heard a “three-round burst” of gunfire and, after waiting a couple of seconds, radioed, “shots fired.” He said he then ran back to the scene to see that Kinsey had been shot.

The State Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation and cleared Hollant, saying the allegation he was lying was due to “miscommunication” and that Hollant had in fact not lied. Eugene testified that he believed he’d been misled by Juriga and that he too believed Hollant was truthful about getting his binoculars.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

An internal investigation began.

And in numerous sworn statements, not a single officer could definitively place Hollant at the scene when the shots were fired. Sgt. Milton Reid even testified that Hollant, who’d been promoted just days before from the rank of sergeant, left the scene and returned with his binoculars.

“I lost track of him because I’m focusing on the targets and then I see Hollant come back with binoculars,” Reid said.

Reid also, however, alleged he saw Hollant look through the binoculars before the shooting took place. It was a contention Reid didn’t mention in his initial interview directly after the shooting. In fact, when asked about officers he’d seen prior to the shooting taking place, he named two other officers but didn’t name Hollant at all.

Despite the scant evidence, the IA disposition panel sustained the allegation that Hollant was untruthful.

“It was determined that Commander Hollant committed administrative obstruction of law enforcement investigation by way of false statement,” announced North Miami City Manager Larry Spring at a community meeting last week.

It was a finding with which North Miami Assistant Chief Neal Cuevas vehemently disagreed.

In a June 2 memorandum, Cuevas called the IA investigation into Hollant an “unmitigated miscarriage of justice” that was “replete with misinformation, half-truths and blatant inconsistencies.”

Meanwhile, Hollant’s direct supervisor, Major Tim Belcher, recommended that based on the findings, Hollant should be demoted back down to sergeant, in part based on the fact that Hollant, whether he saw the actual shooting or not, should have announced himself as a witness.

“Commander Hollant should have taken charge of the direction of this critical incident,” Belcher wrote.

Despite the fact that Cuevas believed the investigation was a sham and that Belcher felt Hollant should only be demoted, Juriga, who made the initial allegation against Hollant that was contradicted by the state attorney’s office, made the decision to fire Hollant while Eugene was on medical leave and he was serving as acting chief.

Eugene was also informed that he, too, was being fired. He said Spring, the city manager, told him the department was going in another direction.

But then came media reports that the city was claiming he had contradicted himself in sworn statements regarding Hollant, telling prosecutors that Hollant had told him the truth but stating in the IA investigation that Hollant had lied to him.

But Eugene told Local 10 that statement was taken out of context to be used against him and that he was describing how he felt at the time the allegation was made against Hollant just days after the shooting. Indeed, the question preceding his statement was in the past tense, referring to when he “went to the city manager.”

“When you said that you went to the city manager with this, you said, and I wrote it down, you said that you probably moved to right with your comment on this,” Sgt. Diana Roman said. “So it is fair to say it was your interpretation ….”

It was at that point Eugene jumped in to say he felt at the time that Hollant had lied.

“That he lied to me,” Eugene said. “The commander completely lied to me.”

He said he doesn’t believe Hollant lied, but said he believes Hollant, as commanding officer on the scene, should have had someone else retrieve binoculars and that Hollant should have been interviewed as a witness after the shooting. But he said those transgressions, while they may have justified some form of punishment, it didn’t warrant termination. 

City activist Stephanie Kienzle, who was the first to report on the Cuevas memo on her website, said she believes Juriga cooked up the case against Hollant as a “power play.”

It’s a sentiment shared by many who attended last week’s community meeting on the firings led by Spring and attended by Juriga, with some calling it a “vendetta” and demanding Hollant be given his job back.  

“You have misled the council and you’re misleading the community,” resident Raymond Emmanuel said.

“These people were against the commander from the beginning; they’re just trying to cover this up and cover their butts,” another resident who declined to be named said.

Juriga refused to comment on the case.

“Out of respect to Commander Hollant, let’s let the process continue,” he told Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman.

“I think his attorney would argue that he hasn’t been shown any respect in this process,” Norman said.

“That’s his right to argue that,” Juriga said. “That’s fine.”

Hollant’s attorney, Michael Joseph, said he believed his client was “set up” and was being played as a “patsy” in the shooting. He has already filed an EEOC complaint on Hollant’s behalf and is preparing a civil suit.

“He’s been branded as a dirty cop, as someone that lied, that tried to hide something,” Joseph said. “And he’s not the person the city tried to make him out to be. … They’re trying to make him be some kind of fall guy and we’re trying to fight it.”

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Man dies in northwest Miami-Dade shooting; 2 others injured

One person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting Wednesday afternoon in northwest Miami-Dade, police said. 

It started as an argument between a man and a woman outside a corner store at Northwest 22nd Avenue and Northwest 66th Street. 

At one point the woman said to the man that she was going to tell her boyfriend about the argument, police said.  It’s not known if that man was involved in the shooting.

Later on, a vehicle drove down Northwest 66th Street with three men inside.

The vehicle approached a man outside a home, and one man got out of the car and started physically fighting with him, police said.

One person in the car then opened fire, police said. The man  who had been standing outside went inside his home, got his gun and began to shoot.

A shootout then ensued.

In the end, three people were shot and one of them died as a result of a gunshot wound.

Their identities have not been released.

Police said they have a man in custody, but they’re not saying what role he played.

Anyone with more information about the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. 

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Perjury charge against former trooper in Sandra Bland case dismissed

The former Texas state trooper who pulled over and arrested Sandra Bland has turned in his law enforcement license in exchange for having a perjury charge against him dismissed.

Brian Encinia is no longer eligible to be hired as an officer and won’t pursue employment in law enforcement under the terms of the agreement, according to court documents released Wednesday.

Encinia arrested Bland in July 2015 after a traffic stop. Authorities accused her of failing to use her turn signal.

Dashcam video shows the encounter Bland had with Encinia started as a normal conversation but grew tense after Encinia asked her to put out her cigarette. Bland was arrested after refusing to get out of her car.

Three days later, Bland was found hanging in her jail cell.

Authorities ruled Bland’s death a suicide, but her family cast doubt, saying she would have never killed herself.

Bland’s death sparked outrage from those who said she never should have been arrested. Protesters said her arrest after failing to use a turn signal showed bias and excessive use of force by police against African-Americans.

Bland’s family is disappointed by the dismissal, their lawyer said.

“The special prosecutor assured the family they would see the matter to trial. The family relied on that. The prosecutor didn’t even reach out to the family to notify them that they were looking to cut this deal,” attorney Cannon D. Lambert said. “What was gained — him never being an officer anymore, would have been gained by a conviction. They gave up a chance to seek justice and got nothing.”

CNN affiliate KTRK in Houston obtained a statement from Encinia’s lawyer.

“Brian and his family appreciate the thoughtful review by the prosecutors. Dismissal was the right thing to do.” attorney Chip Lewis said.

CNN has also reached out to Lewis for comment.

Encinia was fired in March 2016. He had said he took Bland from the car she was driving so he could conduct a safer traffic investigation.

No one was charged in her jailhouse death.

In September, her family reached a $1.9 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit

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Australia’s top Catholic official charged with sexual assault offenses

Cardinal George Pell, the most senior member of the Catholic Church in Australia, has been charged with multiple historical sexual assault offenses, Victoria Deputy Police Commissioner Shane Patton said Thursday.

Pell has previously denied covering up abuse committed by priests when he served as the Archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001. But he acknowledged his predecessor, Archbishop Frank Little, now deceased, had destroyed documents to protect priests.

He now serves as the Archbishop of Sydney.

“I want to be perfectly clear — the process and the procedures that have been followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offenses whenever we investigate them,” Patton said. “Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation.”

Pell will be required to appear in the Melbourne Magistrate’s court on July 18th for a filing hearing. He is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants relating to those charges, police said.

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Moms everywhere are freaking out over simplicity of new car seat trick

Anyone who has ever carried an infant car seat knows how clunky and awkward it can be, even just hauling the seat across a parking lot or up a driveway.

Plus, those seats can be heavy — and even more back-breaking when you add in the precious cargo that sits inside: a growing baby!

It’s not clear how exactly you should best hold the infant seat with the baby inside: Should you loop your arm through, like a picnic basket? (That can lead to some bruising if you let it hit your thigh as you walk). Or just keep your arm straight and walk quickly, hoping you don’t lose your grip?

Wait! There’s a better way, said Dr. Emily Puente of Bridge Family Chiropractic in Mansfield, Texas.

Rather than hooking her elbow through the handle of the car seat, she slides her hand through the handle and down toward the base of the seat, then twists her wrists and lifts it up from the bottom.

“As soon as we switch to this,” she explains while demonstrating, “it’s a completely different change in how I’m using my body, to be able to use and distribute this weight from this carrier to be able to carry it around.”

The move Puente makes to take hold of the car seat looks crazy at first — but this odd-looking body positioning could actually make your life so much easier.

Watch for yourself above. The video has been viewed 4.5 million times since Puente first posted it on Facebook in late April, with more than 55,000 shares.

The only thing we’ll add is this: What works for one parent might not work for another. Although Puente’s video seems ingenious, consider your own body and any possible limitations.

Puente also recently posted an update on her video, saying the following: “It has been brought to my attention that one viewer experienced discomfort when attempting this maneuver. I am sorry to hear that and so I wanted to share that due to so many different makes and models of car seats, it is likely that this method won’t work for all seats. This was merely an attempt to pass along a creative idea that was shared and works incredibly well for the majority of those who attempt it.

“I suggest being cleared by your medical professional prior to trying any new regimen if you would like to ensure you are fit to perform actions like the one shown here.”

This seems so simple and smart. Why didn’t we think of it sooner?

Tell us in the comments, parents: Would you try this? Or is there a better way?

h/t Scary Mommy

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