Sexual misconduct allegations aimed at former Miami Gardens police chief
Ex-top cop allegedly involved in love triangle with two female officers
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The morality tale begins with Kalicia Battle, a former Broward High School basketball star, applying to become a Miami Gardens police officer.
She said during that process she received special attention from another member of the force: then acting police Chief Antonio Brooklen.
Battle, 26, said Brooklen, who would soon be named the permanent chief and was twice her age and married with children, asked her for her number -- which she gave him.
Brooklen then began texting and calling her.
She supplied Local 10 with a couple of examples, including one in which Brooklen allegedly wrote, "I want to feel you," and another when he allegedly writes that he wants to see her.
"Are you drunk?" he asks when she told him she was at a bar with friends.
She also said that he touched her inappropriately in a patrol car.
"I pretended to go along with what he said because I didn’t want him to fire me," said Battle.
She said the inappropriate attention made her uncomfortable and that she had no romantic interest in Brooklen for several reasons, not the least of which because she is a lesbian.
After she got the job, she said she began dating another young officer, Kimberly McDonald. Then she learned that McDonald was having an intimate relationship with another member of the force.
McDonald's paramour: the same Miami Gardens Police Chief Antonio Brooklen.
The strange situation might have been kept under the radar if not for what occurred on April 18, when Battle, who was on duty at the time, and McDonald had a domestic dispute at McDonald’s home.
Police were called.
It sparked an internal investigation and made the Miami Herald, with the headline, "2 Miami Garden cops brawl at townhome, investigation underway." But the story contained none of the details, least of all the police chief's involvement with the two officers involved.
Battle alleges that Brooklen pressured her to resign her position, promising her he would help her get a job. She resigned a week after the incident, on April 25.
The internal investigation, however, wasn't concluded until two months later.
Again, Brooklen's name wasn’t involved, except when he approved the investigation with his signature as chief. McDonald was suspended with pay, where she remains.
Battle's attorney, Stephan Lopez, said he sent an intent-to-sue letter to the city September 19 on behalf of Battle alleging sexual harassment ,among other causes.
Three days later, Brooklen abruptly resigned as the top cop, from a position he’d called his dream job less than a year before. In his letter he cited the health of his mother, who is seriously ill.
"My mother, my wife, my children are my heart and I live for them," he wrote in the letter.
Lopez doesn't buy the reason, saying the timing is suspicious.
While Lopez said he is preparing the lawsuit, McDonald's attorney, Rick Diaz, said he is exploring possible legal action as well, confirming that his client and Brooklen had a personal "dating" relationship.
"You don't do that, you’re the chief," said Diaz, himself a former police officer. "It's an abuse of power, it's an abuse of his position."
Diaz also noted that the alleged relationship was in violation of Miami Gardens policy which dictates that a superior officer has a "duty to notify" the department if he or she engages in a personal relationship with a subordinate and such relationships must be cleared.
"He was the ultimate superior in the city of Miami Gardens," Lopez said. "He was the chief of police. He didn't disclose that to anybody."
When asked about the allegations at his Broward home, Brooklen was tight-lipped.
"Can you talk about the sexual harassment allegations?" asked Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman.
"I don't know of any sexual harassment that occurred," said Brooklen.
"Did you have a relationship with Kimberly McDonald while you were chief?"
"I have no comment," said Brooklen.
"So you're not going to deny that?"“
"I have no comment."
"What was that the real reason you resigned?" asked Norman.
"My family means the world to me," said Brooklen.
While Brooklen and Battle have both resigned, McDonald is still suspended with pay, in limbo, deprived of her badge and gun, said Diaz, who called it another cost to taxpayers prompted by the misconduct.
"You have an officer that's not performing," he said. "She's being paid to not perform."
Both Diaz and Lopez said they blame the city for appointing Brooklen as chief job in the first place.
"Chief Antonio Brooklen engaged in sexual harassment throughout the course of his tenure at the Miami Gardens Police Department," said Lopez.
Brooklen was demoted and suspended for 30 days back in 2009 after a sexual harassment complaint was made by a female crime scene technician that he was sexually harassing her with phone calls and text messages.
The employee alleged he offered to give her a massage, asked to take her out, and encouraged her to wear "something short” to show off her legs. The internal investigation found "considerable inappropriate behavior" on Brooklen's part and that he "demonstrated in extremely poor judgment in pursuing a relationship with" the woman, "without thinking about the consequences or impact it would have on his own marriage … or most importantly the Miami Gardens Police Department."
"You don’t put somebody in there if they have baggage in my opinion," said Diaz.
Oliver Gilbert, the bow-tied mayor of Miami Gardens, refused to discuss the hiring and current issues when questioned prior to a commission meeting Wednesday night. Gilbert, a friend and fraternity brother of Brooklen, indicated he may comment on the case in the future.
City Manager Cameron Benson refused comment as well, citing what he said was likely litigation against the city in the case. Diaz said that he is exploring possible legal action on behalf of Officer McDonal but maintained that her number one priority is to get off suspension and back on patrol.
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