Questions surround City of Miami commissioner’s presence at unlicensed nightclub

District 1′s Alex Díaz de la Portilla on bodycam video as code enforcement cracks down

There are many questions surrounding why elected official Alex Diaz de la Portilla was at an unlicensed club last month during COVID.

MIAMI, Fla. – Police bodycam video shows code enforcement officers cracking down on an illegal nightclub last month, but it also shows City of Miami Commissioner for District 1 Alex Díaz de la Portilla there.

“It’s a city supported venture.” That’s what veteran code enforcement officer Suzann Nicholson thought when Díaz de la Portilla came to see her along with police backups who were out cracking down on illegal, curfew-violating pop-up nightclubs.

In the video, the commissioner is called over to handle the code enforcement officer and the police officers who were there to cite illegal nightclub businesses. Not to mention that it was already past midnight – past the county imposed midnight curfew.

In the video, you can hear Nicholson say, “I guess he’s representing the face of the city with the unlicensed activities.”

“No, no, no,” says the masked commissioner and to her left, the tenant’s operator, who is a retired officer and knows her.

The commissioner corrects her. “Don’t assume,” he says, “nothing to do with the city here.” Then Díaz de la Portilla urges her to go about her business.

“You do what you need to do, go where you need to go, and we’ll deal with it after the fact,” he says.

There are two issues to be raised — one is the event itself, and the other is the lack of information about the event at the highest level of police and the city.

Texts between the code and police officers show the assignment that night where they were going to several addresses in Allapattah that were warehouses by day and unlicensed party venues at night.

There is a list of violations issued from the venue where the commissioner was, which include no permit and no business tax receipts.

So back to those questions:

What was an elected official doing here, at an unlicensed club, past a COVID-19 curfew he vocally supported last year?

Why are there conflicting versions of police reports? One says a gun was involved, though one sent publicly does not.

Why have other public records been held up including the body worn camera video? The clip Local 10 News obtained shows just a fraction of what happened. Nicholson has emailed the officers asking for it.

What did the Miami’s Interim Chief of Police Ronald L. Papier know and what was his response? Papier was unavailable when Local 10 News reached out Friday.

Local 10 News did get a communication from City Manager Art Noriega early Friday evening who said he didn’t know anything about it until this week.

Noriega is, however, opening an internal investigation into allegations from the code compliance officer that she was manhandled and hurt herself during that event last month. As for Díaz de la Portilla, he denies any wrongdoing.

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."