MIAMI – A judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently agreed to dismiss several counts in a lawsuit filed by a North Miami Police Department commander who was dismissed from the force following a police-involved shooting.
In his July 17 ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. dismissed some of the claims against defendants in the case – the city of North Miami, City Manager Larry M. Spring Jr., Police Chief Larry Juriga, City Councilman Scott W. Galvin and Sergeant Diana Roman.
The suit was filed by Emile Hollant, a police commander, who claimed he was dismissed from his job after being accused of lying about details of the 2016 shooting. The suit claims the accusations regarding his dismissal were unjust and untrue.
As related in the court documents, Hollant responded to a 911 call about two men, one of whom appeared to have a gun to his head. When Hollant went to get some binoculars from his patrol car to positively decide if the object was a gun, another officer fired, hitting one of the men.
Hollant told Eugene, the police chief at the time, that he had not witnessed the shooting.
New information and other stories later came to the attention of police, court filings said. Three days later, Juriga, the assistant police chief at the time, claimed that Hollant had lied to Eugene about the incident and had made a statement that caused the other officer to open fire. Based on this information, Eugene decided to put Hollant on administrative leave. Spring, the city manager, stated Hollant should be suspended without pay, but then, after reviewing the radio transmissions, said the suspension would be with pay.
Eugene requested that Spring and the city attorney review the police radio communications before suspending Hollant. According to Hollant, Spring refused to listen, and ordered Eugene to relieve him of duty.
As stated in the amended complaint, Hollant asserts claims for violations of his right to due process under the 14th Amendment (Counts 1-4); violation of the Florida Whistleblower Act (Count 5); national origin discrimination (Count 6); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count 7); and slander (Count 8).
The defendants each sought dismissal of the claims against them.
In his ruling, Scola said,“Count 1 is dismissed with prejudice as to the defendants Spring and Juriga to the extent that the claim is asserted against them in their official capacities. To the extent that Count 1 is asserted against the defendants Spring and Juriga in their personal capacities, they are not entitled to qualified immunity and the motion to dismiss is denied.”
The judge denied dismissal of Count 1 and 2 as it applied to the city, however, he did dismiss Counts 3 to 8 with prejudice.