Former Miami firefighter apologizes for rant in response to fallen detective

Miami firefighter under investigation over reaction to slain detective

MIAMI – The former Miami firefighter who was terminated over a rant that offended the local law enforcement community at a time of grief released a public apology on Friday evening saying he wished he could take his words back.

Kevin Newcomb, then a Miami firefighter, used a WhatsApp group chat, to write an opinion after learning that a robbery suspect had shot Detective Cesar “Echy” Echaverry while on duty on Monday night in Liberty City.

Echaverry, 29, died on Wednesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center — after a five-year career with the Miami-Dade Police Department. Just hours after a procession and a motorcade escorted Echaverry’s casket to a funeral home, Newcomb addressed the possibility that Echaverry’s family might have read his post.

“I wish them as much peace as possible and they deserve only kindness and support in this time. I hate to see suffering anywhere, and the worst kind of suffering is in those grieving a family member taken too soon. I take responsibility for the words I wrote, and I am so sorry to his loved ones if I have made this time worse for them,” he wrote.

Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban decided to suspend Newcomb pending the results of an investigation. It was swift. Zahralban announced Friday that he decided to terminate Newcomb because he had “demonstrated a disregard for human life” and a “violent and antagonistic stance towards civil servants” that made it “impossible” for him “to carry out his duties as a first responder.”

Newcomb also apologized to the Miami-Dade and Miami police departments, “the community of police officers in south Florida,” and to his former colleagues at the Miami Fire Department.

“My words are not a reflection of the other firefighters I have worked with. I have had a constant flood of people reaching out to tell me that I was wrong, and I agree. My comments do not reflect the work that I did or the care I took in serving our City alongside them,” he wrote.

Newcomb acknowledged the departments have always worked “closely and flawlessly” together.

“It shames me that I caused any measure of rift between our departments,” he wrote adding, “I hope I can one day earn the forgiveness of those who I have hurt. More importantly, I hope that my actions do not continue to distract from the mourning of Officer Echevarry, who did not deserve any of this.”

A Miami police officer also faced a probe over his alleged reaction to the “Officer Down!” alert after Echaverry was shot and police officers rushed to the scene.

“Let them know they’re going to have another officer down if they going at 70 mph near my car,” the officer said, according to a recording of radio dispatch.

The Miami Police Department has yet to announce the results of the investigation.

“If in fact it is determined that it is our officer, he will be held accountable for his actions. It is unsettling and disturbing listening to the lack of concern, compassion, and empathy,” a department spokesperson wrote.

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Read Newcomb’s complete apology:

I am writing this to apologize for the statements that have been circulating that I made earlier this week with some friends in a private chat—comments that I truly regret. While I wanted to apologize as soon as this happened, out of respect for the Fire Department I waited until the investigation was complete. I did not intend to hurt anyone, let alone so many people.

First and foremost, I sincerely apologize to those closest to Officer Echevarry who have been made to feel more pain because of my words. I wish I could take them back. I wish them as much peace as possible and they deserve only kindness and support in this time. I hate to see suffering anywhere, and the worst kind of suffering is in those grieving a family member taken too soon. I take responsibility for the words I wrote, and I am so sorry to his loved ones if I have made this time worse for them.

I would also like to apologize to the Fire Department and its members. My words are not a reflection of the other firefighters I have worked with. I have had a constant flood of people reaching out to tell me that I was wrong, and I agree. My comments do not reflect the work that I did or the care I took in serving our City alongside them.

To the Miami-Dade County Police Department, the City of Miami Police Department, and the community of police officers in south Florida, I am sorry. Our departments have always worked closely and flawlessly with the mutual goal of serving our citizens. It shames me that I caused any measure of rift between our departments. Our brothers and sisters have worked incredibly well together and nothing can come between that cooperation.

I hope I can one day earn the forgiveness of those who I have hurt. More importantly, I hope that my actions do not continue to distract from the mourning of Officer Echevarry, who did not deserve any of this.

Coverage of the procession

Friday’s reports

From the Freedom Tower turned blue in downtown Miami to the balloons and flowers on an unmarked police car in West Little River, Miami-Dade County honored a fallen detective with tributes that included a solemn procession and a motorcade to the funeral home.
A U.S. flag draped the casket of a slain 29-year-old Miami-Dade detective who was engaged to be married. The rendering of honors included a solemn procession on Friday in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel used two ladder trucks to fly a U.S. flag, measuring about 30 by 50 feet, over the road where motormen lined up in salute to honor fallen Detective Cesar “Echy” Echaverry.
A U.S. flag covered the casket of a slain 29-year-old detective who was engaged to be married. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel used two ladder trucks to raise a larger U.S. flag over the road during a procession Friday in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood.
Law enforcement officers from across South Florida honored the life of Miami-Dade Police Detective Cesar Echaverry on Friday.

About the Authors:

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.