Hallandale Beach SWAT resigns not over chief taking a knee, but lack of support, they say

10 members quit partially citing ‘knee of solidarity’ with vice mayor

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – 10 members of Hallandale Beach’s SWAT Team resigned Friday in a lengthy memo to HBPD Chief Sonia Quiñones.

While they cited many issues for their resignations, the last straw was when members of the Command Staff took a knee in solidarity, they said, not because of the gesture but because of whom the SWAT team believed they were supporting and what was the reason for the display.

“Lastly and most shockingly," they said, “having members of the Command Staff taking a knee in solidarity with Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana (who stated she wants the officers ‘fired and charged’) and a handful of political activists that chanted, “Howard Bowe, re-open the case...” showed a lack of support," they stated.

Javellana, the 22-year-old vice mayor who was elected in 2018, and identifies herself on her Twitter page as “Troublemaker.” “Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor,” has been openly vocal about reopening the case of Bowe.

Bowe, a 34-year-old black man, was killed in 2014 by Hallandale Beach’s SWAT team as it carried out an early morning search warrant as part of a narcotics investigation and raided his home. Bowe died 11 days after the May 8, 2014 fatal raid. Bowe’s pitbull was killed with a shotgun and Bowe, who was unarmed, was shot in the stomach. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and four police officers involved in the shooting.

The SWAT Team noted that “This case was investigated by a Grand Jury, The State Attorney, FDLE and settled in a civil action. The city also hired Greenwood and Strieicher, LLC.” The firm, they said, is a consulting company that focuses on government accountability and policing solutions.

The officers wrote that investigators never found any misconduct committed by the officers involved in Bowe’s death. In 2018, the city commission voted unanimously to pay Bowe’s family $425,000 in a settlement they had filed for alleged violation of Bowe’s civil rights and for detaining his son, who was a minor at the time, during the raid.

[RELATED: 10 members of Hallandale Beach SWAT team resign]

“For some reason, our vice mayor, who has been on the dais a little less than two years, is trying to resurrect an issue from the past,” Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper told Local 10. “While there were mistakes made, our officers were adjudicated by a grand jury.”

Chavarria’s statement said the officers’ memo incorrectly said that Quiñones was supporting an elected official by taking a knee.

After a peaceful protest that started at Foster Park and ended at Hallandale Beach City Hall Friday of more than a dozen protesters, Quiñones and some other members of the department joined the protesters when they arrived at City Hall. The city manager said the chief was “taking a knee against racism, hatred and intolerance.

He continued: "They have incorrectly stated the gesture was in support of an elected official. This is simply not true. "

(See the memo below)

Quiñones set a meeting for Monday at 3 p.m. with the officers. At that time, the chief of police will hear their concerns and collect their equipment, according to Chavarria.

“The city thanks them for their service,” the statement read. However, Chavarria said that while officers have resigned from SWAT, they have not resigned from the department.

Chavarria wanted residents to know that Hallandale Beach Police will continue to have special weapons and tactics coverage.

“While the voluntary resignation of our officers from this assignment is unfortunate, our residents should be assured it has not had any impact on our commitment to protecting their safety.”

About the Authors:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.