The fallout continues from the July 18, 2016 North Miami shooting of an unarmed black man by Officer Jonathan Aledda, and the abrupt suspension of Commander Emile Hollant for his allegedly giving “conflicting” information to North Miami Police investigators.
Curiously, on July 22, 2016, when North Miami city officials finally released the name of the officer who actually pulled the trigger, they immediately implicated Commander Emile Hollant in the incident, and announced that he was being suspended without pay for his alleged involvement.
As first reported by CBS Miami earlier this evening, then followed by WPLG Local 10 and NBC Miami, the Miami State Attorney’s Office issued a Close-Out Memo on August 2, 2016, emphatically announcing that “Commander Hollant did not lie“ about his involvement in the NMPD shooting.
It’s important to note that in this Close-Out Memo, Chief Assistant State Attorney Jose Arrojo and Deputy Chief Assistant State Attorney Howard Rosen specifically stated that the investigation of the shooting “by Officer Jonathan Aledda is not the subject of this preliminary inquiry,” which “is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and other Assistant State Attorneys.”
Interestingly, the Close-Out Memo goes to great lengths to imply that this “preliminary inquiry” had to do with what was “publicly reported,” yet it also notes that “specifically, it has been alleged that Commander Hollant advised North Miami police investigators and command staff that he was not a witness in the police use of deadly force; but they concluded that he was.”
That statement was followed by an excruciatingly detailed paragraph listing all the media articles published from July 22, 2016 through July 25, 2016, which reported that Commander Hollant gave “conflicting statements” and that he was subsequently suspended without pay.
However, keep in mind that the State Attorney rarely, if ever opens inquiries merely based on news stories!
The meandering paragraph about media reports appears to be purposely injected into the Close-Out Memo in order to avoid directly admitting that someone – most likely within the police department – had filed a formal complaint against Commander Hollant.
The phrase “specifically, it has been alleged” clearly indicates that at least one or more individuals filed an official complaint against Commander Hollant with the State Attorney’s Office.
Also buried near the end of that paragraph about the media stories, was the statement that when North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene was interviewed, he “stated that he had been advised by members of his command staff that Commander Hollant had provided inconsistent or false statements regarding his witnessing of the police use of deadly force.”
It was also noted that once the City Manager “was informed of the allegations,” he made a decision to suspend Commander Hollant without pay.
Although the Commander has insisted from the very beginning that he was honest, truthful and consistent in his statements to the North Miami Police Department investigators, the City Manager based his decision on what is now confirmed to be false information provided by “members of the command staff.”
Nevertheless, despite all the false accusations that Commander Hollant denied being present the scene of the shooting, the Assistant State Attorneys determined that he did not lie.
Commander Hollant “provided a voluntary statement to prosecutors,” in which he insisted that he never told the North Miami Police Department investigators that he was not present at the scene.
The Commander again reiterated, as he originally stated to those same investigators, that he did not witness the actual shooting because “he had returned to his police vehicle, over a city block from the location of the victims of the shooting, to retrieve his binoculars when he heard gunshots. The gunshots were subsequently determined to have been fired by Officer Aledda.”
The Close-Out Memo concluded that “there is insufficient evidence in this matter to generate a formal investigation.”
Here’s the thing.
Four days after the shooting, the city officials held a press conference during which they announced that Commander Hollant was suspended without pay for “misleading investigators at the police department.”
City Manager Larry Spring announced, “This will not be tolerated.”
An indignant Councilman Scott Galvin declared, “The police officer who you have just heard named has been put on leave totally violated his trust from the public to protect and serve. By giving misinformation to this department, he not only jeopardized Mr. Kinsey’s life and the life of his client, he jeopardized the life of every police officer that serves this city. We will not tolerate those types of behavior.”
Even the terminally inappropriate and perpetually clueless City Clerk Michael Etienne just had to pile it on by exhorting, “Understand this. An officer who betrays the trust of any residents of any community, they must be shamed, removed, fired, and of course, completely … completely lose the right to ever wear an officer’s uniform again.”
These slanderous statements, which were based on false claims by the North Miami Police Department investigators, were not only premature, but as we now know, completely baseless. The utter rush to judgment against Commander Hollant before any legitimate investigation could possibly have been concluded were by design intended to discredit him, his name and his honor.
Commander Emile Hollant should be immediately reinstated in his position with full pay, including any lost wages. Those city officials who publicly disparaged and humiliated him must make an immediate, sincere, and very public apology to him, his family and to the community at large.
But even more critical, the North Miami Police Department investigators who deliberately made Commander Hollant the scapegoat for their SWAT team’s inexplicable screw up must be exposed for their duplicity, held accountable for their actions, and disciplined accordingly.