MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - The Miami Beach Police Department said Tuesday it has initiated termination proceedings against two officers, one of whom was involved in an ATV crash that injured three people this weekend.
The department said it is proceeding with the termination of the employment of officers Derrick Kulian and Rolando Gutierrez due to "behavior consistent with conduct unbecoming a police officer" and for what it called "actions amounting to dereliction of duties." Both officers have already been relieved of duty.
The officers' terminations stem from events surrounding an ATV crash on Miami Beach early Sunday.
Police said Kulian was on duty, patrolling the beach, when he crashed an ATV in the sand off Ocean Drive near Fourth Street. According to police, Kulian had an unauthorized passenger, Adelee Sharie Martin, 27, on the ATV with him at the time of the crash. Luis Almonte , 29, of North Miami, and Kitzie Nicantor, 28, of Washington state, were taken to hospitals in serious condition after the crash. Almonte remained at Mt. Sinai Medical Center on Tuesday, and Nicantor remained at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Martin was taken to a hospital after the crash, but she has been released.
In a news release Tuesday afternoon, Miami Beach police said both Kulian and Gutierrez were present at the Clevelander Hotel before the crash. A video gave Miami Beach's police chief and mayor the proof, police said, that Kulian and Gutierrez were among a crowd of partiers at The Clevelander on Sunday morning, both on duty, both out of their patrol jurisdiction and shirking their assignments.
"The police have the tapes," said Mike Palma, the manager of The Clevelander. "They've looked at them."
"I saw a picture where the two officers were at The Clevelander," said Miami Beach Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower. "The fact that they were out of post, I think that's one of the big issues."
"There were enough policies broken and violated to go ahead with the dismissal at this point," said Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega.
Police said Kulian took a civilian with him on the ATV, which they said violates departmental policies.
Police said the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office is reviewing the evidence and interviewing witnesses and may file criminal charges against Kulian.
Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests on Kulian from the night of the crash.
One of the two people who were hit by the ATV told police that Kulian left the scene while he and his friend lay hurt and bleeding. Miami Beach police said they have not confirmed whether Kulian, who has worked at the department since May 2005, left the scene of the crash.
Miami Beach police said Gutierrez was not involved in the crash but that he violated departmental policies. Police said Gutierrez, who joined the Miami Beach Police Department in August 2005, was tested for alcohol consumption during an administrative investigation.
"It's unfortunate because these officers have never been on the radar screen before," Noriega said. "Whatever prompted their decisions and poor judgment in this case was enough to end up in dismissal, and hopefully this sends a loud message to the entire organization and certainly to the residents and the visitors."
A jogger shot video of the ATV sitting in the surf on Miami Beach. Officers were inspecting the vehicle.
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