3 Homestead officers terminated over alleged bar incident
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (WSVN) -- Three Homestead Police officers were fired following their alleged involvement in beating incidents outside a bar that got them suspended nearly two years ago.
"It is an embarrassment to the police department," said Det. Fernando Morales, a department spokesperson, during a press conference Friday afternoon.
Sgt. Jeffrey Rome, 56, was charged with battery, false imprisonment and abuse of an elderly adult for the incident, which was caught on surveillance video. Rome allegedly pepper sprayed and beat several men at Celio's Cuartel Latino, a bar often frequented by migrant workers.
Officer Geovanni Soto, 40, has also been charged with allegedly beating a man outside the same bar, and is accused of dropping the victim at home without offering medical assistance. Sgt. Lizanne Deegan is accused of failing to file a police report.
"It's never a good thing when police officers have to investigate police officers for wrongdoing," Morales said. Senior officers made the recommendation to terminate all three officers for their conduct. "All of that information was reviewed by the chief of police and the city manager, and the decision was made that they would be terminated," Morales said.
The incidents date back to early 2011. All three officers were suspended at the time. The state attorney followed up that reprimand with charges.
The Police Benevolence Association contested the claims then, and released a statement following Friday's announcement. "We have been working with both the State Attorney's Office and the Homestead Police Chief to bring to life the true facts of this case, wrote John Rivera in the statement. "We have had issues with these cases and their substance since the beginning; however, we are continuing to work towards what we believe will be a positive resolution for everyone involved," he continued.
Morales indicated he wants citizens to know they do not have to fear coming forward to Homestead Police. "Trust that any allegation will be investigated to the fullest extent," he said.
On a phone interview with 7News, Deegan's attorney called the firing "a terrible mistake." All three officers will most likely have their final say on this matter in a court of law.
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