Three Medley Officers fired for traffic accident cover-up

DUI Accident Cover Up Back Fires

Three officers from the Town of Medley, FL, who allegedly pinned the blame on another driver resulting in his false arrest for DUI, were fired by Medley police department.

Chief Jeanette Said-Jinete ordered the firings of officer Freddy Romero, Sgt. Jorge Perez and Lt. Joseph Olmedo for writing false reports and other misconduct, leading to the false arrest of another driver.

Leovigildo Bravo Fraga, 49, was driving to work one night last fall, when a Medley police car crashed into his mini-van while turning left on an intersection. As a result of the accident, Fraga was falsely accused of failing to yield, arrested on a drunk driving charge and taken to the police station.

The internal documents detailing the incident reported that the incident took place on 8 October, 2011 when Fraga was driving south on Northwest 72nd Avenue at about 11 p.m. The traffic light was green at the intersection of Northwest South River Drive, where officer Romero was trying to turn left.

Romero, who was on duty at the time and driving his marked patrol car, failed to yield, striking Fraga’s car. Neither car sustained serious damage, and no one was hurt. The auto wreck was Romero’s fourth in his 18 months as a Medley cop, which could get him in a lot of trouble for serious discipline.

Romero called Sgt. Perez, who immediately claimed Fraga’s breath smelled of beer. Perez and Romero decided the driver was drunk and processed him as a drunk driver and charged him with the accident.

Fraga, who works as an airport cargo loader, admitted that he had drunk two beers, seven hours earlier during a barbecue, and took a nap after that.

However, Romero administered a roadside sobriety test himself, and said that Fraga failed the breath test; but later claimed that he never actually arrested Fraga. Romero handcuffed Fraga, read him his Miranda rights and drove him to the Hialeah police station.

At the station, the case unraveled quickly and Bravo was released from custody when fellow police from Hialeah realized Fraga was not drunk at the time of the accident. An officer specializing in DUI gave Fraga a breath test twice, which came back at .00% on the Intoxalyzer both times. Other evidence gathered, including the police reports, scene photos and a surveillance video of the crash showed that the Medley cop was at fault in the accident, not Fraga.

“My car is still damaged and nobody’s paid me anything. My license is suspended and I don’t know why. I have to depend on friends to take me to work,” said Fraga. He also had to pay $151 to the tow yard to retrieve his car which had been towed away.

Although the three Medley cops who committed the crime could not be proved by the Miami-Dade prosecutors, the Medley police department has fired Officer Freddy Romero, Sgt. Jorge Perez and Lt. Joseph Olmedo for writing false police reports and other misconduct.

The president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, which is representing two of the three officers, John Rivera, called the firing ‘harsh and unfair.”

The entire episode has been a black eye for the police department of Medley, the eight-square mile Miami-Dade industrial town just west of Hialeah. According to latest news, the three officers are also suing Medley, saying that the investigation is severely flawed and the police chief violated the city’s charter by ordering their firings.

“This is a biased witch-hunt and willful violation of every concept of fairness,” said their lawyer, Jose M. Herrera.

In his statement, Herrera said that he believed Fraga was impaired “by exhaustion” as he works the night shift.

Perez also wrote a report stating several facts accusing Fraga in the accident, which were later shot down.

Lt. Olmeda, who was the acting chief as Said-Jinete was out of town, quickly approved his report and filed the report directly with the department’s insurance company, instead of with the town’s legal department, breaking Medley rules.

The coverup was noticed by an adjuster with United Automobile Insurance who found out that the claim did not match the accident report and photos. As a result, the Hialeah police was asked to initiate an internal-affairs probe by the chief’s office.

The final investigation showed “very sloppy police work”, but one which could not sustain a criminal case. The possible crimes include unlawful compensation, official misconduct and fraudulent insurance claim.

Author: Amir Ladan
A former assistant state attorney for Orange/Osceola Counties, Amir has handled thousands of cases and dozens of trials, ranging from DUI and traffic offenses to murder, in both adult and juvenile court.

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