Thursday, February 10, 2011
7 News Investigations: Under Fire
A local man claims he was fired for doing what he thought was right, and now he's filed a lawsuit about it. 7's Craig Stevens shows us why this man thinks he's "Under Fire."
WSVN -- Dennis Reeves spent his weekends working as an armed security guard at the Okeechobee Metro Rail Station.
Dennis Reeves: "It's a busy job, people coming in and out of the station. I like being around people. I enjoyed it."
Last July, as Dennis was patrolling the second floor something caught his attention on the street below. Dennis says he witnessed a Hialeah Police officer making a traffic stop.
Dennis Reeves: "I have the perfect view from where I'm standing. The police could not see me."
But Dennis says he could see clearly what happened next.
Dennis Reeves: "Suddenly the police officer physically drug this man out of his truck, throwing him to the ground. The officer started kicking this man with full-force blunt kicks. At one point the police officer got on top of this man and started hitting him on the face with his closed fist. When the man was on the ground, I never saw him resisting, I never saw him trying to hit the police officer, I never saw him trying to escape."
Fearing for the man's safety Dennis yelled out for the officer to stop.
Dennis Reeves: "The police officer looked at me and more or less, froze. I knew what I saw was wrong."
So wrong he immediately contacted Hialeah Police to report what he saw.
Dennis Reeves: "Within an hour and a half, a detective from internal affairs came to the station and he interviewed me."
He went home thinking he had done his civic duty, but two weeks later he was shocked when his boss fired him.
Dennis Reeves: "He came to the tri-rail where I was working and informed me that I was being removed from the contract by the request of the Miami-Dade County Transit because of me giving the statement to the internal affairs in reference to the police officer beating this man."
Dennis Reeves: "Disbelief. It was very hard to take."
Dennis has filed a lawsuit against his former employer Navarro Group claiming the company violated the whistleblower act. He believes the company retaliated against him for calling the police when he saw a cop allegedly beating up a man.
Dennis Reeves: "It's unjust. I did nothing wrong and I'm the one who lost my job."
We left several messages for Nick Navarro, the president of the security company and the former Broward County sheriff, but we received no call back.
Dennis says he thought he was doing the right thing and thinks his former employer should do the same.
Dennis Reeves: "Justice. For me, when I saw the police officer kicking and beating this man I would hope that if I was getting beat by a police officer someone would say something. not look the other way."
Just this week Hialeah Police cleared that officer of using excessive force.