Miami Beach police officers sent racist, explicit work emails, state attorney says

Lt. Alex Carulo fired; Major Angel Vazquez retired last year

MIAMI - Miami-Dade County's state attorney said more than a dozen Miami Beach police officers sent racist and explicit images via their work email.

Katherine Fernandez Rundle made the announcement during a news conference Thursday.

She said there were a total of 16 officers who either sent or received the emails.

Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates said his predecessor was asked to conduct an internal investigation about the conduct of some ranking members of his department, but no action was taken.

Oates said Lt. Alex Carulo and former Major Angel Vazquez "were the primary purveyors of this pornography." He called the material "explicit and disgusting, and there was a high volume of it."

Carulo was fired Thursday, while Vazquez retired last July.

Rundle said all of the emails were sent during the previous administration.

"Not only are we all offended by the nature of these emails, but we find it equally offensive that this conduct seems to have been accepted within the department," Rundle said. "In fact, it seems to have permeated through to the highest ranks of the administration of the department."

Of those 16 officers involved, Rundle said they are listed as witnesses in about 540 cases -- 378 of which involve white defendants. She said her office is reviewing each of those cases.

Rundle said her office won't prosecute cases "that have been tainted" racially.

RELATED: 3 Fort Lauderdale police officers fired, 1 resigns after racist video

Carulo used to be a captain until he was demoted by Oates last summer, shortly after Oates took office.

Among the images sent, Oates said, was the autopsy photo of Raymond Herisse, who was fatally shot by police on Memorial Day in 2011.

Miami Beach has been in the news for several incidents that have portrayed its police in a negative light.

Earlier this month, Detective Phillipe Archer was suspended after surveillance video surfaced that showed him punching a handcuffed woman in the face and kicking her in a 2013 incident.

In March, Sgt. Mike Muley was fired after he was drinking while working off-duty at a nightclub last July. The Miami Beach Police Department has since changed its policy of allowing officers to work off-duty security jobs in the city.

City Manager Jimmy Morales said in a statement that he has made it his "mission to root out corruption and wrongdoing in the administration."

Morales said hiring Oates, who previously served as police chief in Aurora, Colorado, during the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater, "was an integral step in our efforts, and it has continued to have incredible results. This is just another example."

Oates said that, despite the allegations, he is still proud to lead his department.

Rundle said criminal charges are possible if any minors are depicted in the pornographic images.

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