A Miami-Dade Police aide was placed on administrative duty after he was investigated for reportedly saying a Black female sergeant looked “like a monkey”, according to a report from the Miami Herald.
Pablo Espinoza, who works as a public service aide for the Miami-Dade Police Department, allegedly made the racist statement while on the job at a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hearing on Sept. 4. Miami-Dade Schools Police Sgt. Tracy Moore was at the DMV awaiting a hearing to determine if her license would be revoked. She had been detained in July on a drunk driving charge. Espinoza was to administer one of the breath-analysis machines in the suspected drunk driving case against Moore.
Moore’s attorney, Michael Catalano, told the Miami Herald that before the hearing began, the police aide approached him, grabbed him by the shoulder and said: “Your client looks like a monkey sitting there.”
“I was shocked,” Catalano told the Herald. “Nobody talks like that in 2019.”
The disgusted attorney informed his client about what transpired.
After the hearing was over, Catalano said he decided to contact Espinoza about the statement via text message. His intention was to elicit a confession in writing.
“Pablo. You have 2 hours to [apologize] for saying my [client] looks like a monkey or I report it to the director,” Catalano wrote. “I was disgusted by that and they have a video in the hallway. Apologize and we drop it.”
Espinoza responded: “I’m apologizing. Done.”
Catalano’s plan worked, but in lieu of accepting the apology and erasing the message, he mentioned the incident while attending a deposition regarding Moore’s case on Oct. 7. Espinoza had no choice but to admit what he had done.
Catalano also recommended that the police department terminate Espinoza immediately.
That isn’t the only situation that the police aide faces now.
Though he was not a police officer, Espinoza was responsible for writing traffic-accident reports, addressing concerns from the public and directing traffic.
The Miami Herald also reported that his racist behavior may impact the thousands of cases on which he has been a witness for the prosecution. If he were fired, prosecutors would lose cases involving breath-testing machines, according to Robert Reiff, a Miami defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases.
The department denounced Espinoza’s behavior in a statement.
“The Miami-Dade Police Department takes all complaints seriously and are committed to the highest performance standards and ethical conduct,” a spokesperson for the department said in a statement. “We hold ourselves accountable for our actions and take pride in a professional level of service and fairness to all.