Fired Doral police chief Ricardo “Ricky” Gomez had strong words following his abrupt dismissal this week, saying the city’s new interim manager treated him like “a member of al-Qaida.”
Gomez made his statements at a press conference held in his attorney’s office Wednesday morning.
Later that day, at a the first city council meeting since the chief’s firing, nearly 40 of the roughly 100 officers with the Doral Police Department attended to show their support for Interim City Manager Merrett Stierheim’s decision to fire Gomez and appoint Lt. Miguel "Mike" Pérez as interim chief.
“Dec. 11, 2012 was independence day for the City of Doral Police Department,” said Stg. George Gulla at the meeting.
He and other officers thanked Stierheim for his choice and said morale in the department changed “180 degrees in the positive.”
Gomez, who currently has a lawsuit pending against two former city officials and a sitting councilwoman, again threatened legal action.
“It was really hard the way I was treated,” said Gomez, at the press conference held in his attorney’s Coral Gables office . “I felt like I was a member of al-Qaida being taken off to Gitmo, it was really ridiculous.”
During the press conference Gomez expressed his disappointment with his treatment during and following his termination by Stierheim.
Interim city manager Merrett Stierheim, who has been in his post for about a week following former city manager Yvonne Soler McKinley’s departure last week, had spent the last few days reviewing administrative files — including a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report detailing an investigation into Gomez and possible bid-rigging and misuse of funds.
Gomez was cleared of wrongdoing in that case by the State Attorney’s Office and said during the press conference that believes the FDLE report that was used to justify his termination was “filled with perjured statements.”
“For him to use that as the bases of my dismal is wrong,” said Gomez, adding that following his decision to get fired Gomez was asked to leave city hall and was not permitted to return to his office to collect his personal belonging, instead they will be delivered to his home. “For him to not listen to me or give me any kind of due process is wrong. “
Stierheim said he made his choice because he was dismayed by what he described as an intimidating and insular culture when reviewing the files. He also raised concerns over the way Gomez would hire and fire employees and the morale in the department.
Gomez’s attorney Ibrahim Reyes-Gándara said he is now looking into taking legal action against the city and officials for defamation.
“We do have causes of action against the city, possibly against Mr. Stierheim and possibly against Mayor Boria,” said Reyes-Gándara .
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Mayor Luigi Boria said he was not concerned about a potential lawsuit.
"We are here just to serve the people and Mr. Gomez has the right to make any allegations he wants," Boria said., who has been criticized by his former rival Frank Bolaños, for allegedly accepting an endorsement from former councilman and mayoral candidate Pete Cabrera in exchange for a promise to fire the chief and city manager.