OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – Opa-locka is facing yet another scandal. A police captain is under investigation after he was accused of injuring a sergeant in front of a squad on Sept. 2. An alleged witness sent an anonymous e-mail to Local 10 News on Sept. 6 describing the alleged attack.
Opa-locka commissioners met on Sept. 8. After about two hours and 53 minutes into the meeting, City Manager John E. Pate said he had sent an e-mail to the commission before the meeting in response to anonymous “slanderous” e-mails.
“I have been in government for 15 years and the stuff that I see here I have never seen ... I got here in 2019 and there were myriad of problems within the police department,” Patel said adding the accusations were in retaliation for “difficult decisions” to terminate employees.
Pate said he directed Opa-locka Police Chief Steven Barreira, who he hired and has 30 years of experience, to open a “full and thorough” internal investigation. The alleged anonymous witness claimed a captain “pulled his Taser and pointed it at” the sergeant and shot him with it.
“[The sergeant] was begging [The captain] not to shoot him,” the alleged witness wrote adding Patel asked witnesses not to report the incident.
Patel told commissioners complainants can file for whistle-blower protection and the allegation against him was “not true at all.” Commissioner Sherelean Bass said she was praying and she hopes “to God” that what Pate was saying was true. She said she wants the internal investigation to be done quickly.
“I am not perfect, but I am not unethical. I don’t seat here and terrorize people ... I am a man of God ... I would resign and leave here before I embarrass any of you all with this. If any of this was true, I would be out of here. I would be more than happy to leave,” Pate said.
Opa-locka Mayor Matthew Pigatt interrupted Pate and said he accepted his resignation. Pate corrected him.
“I said, ‘If it is true,’ and the allegations are not true, Mr. Mayor,” Pate said, adding “That is improper!” and “People have malice against me!” Pate also said the situation was “Unbelievable!” and “Absolutely insulting!”
Pate said he is looking forward to the outcome of the department’s internal affairs investigation and said Barreira was in control of the investigation.
Opa-locka commission meeting on Sept. 8
Local 10 News Assignment Desk Editor Emily Hales contributed to this report.