Aide to Miami Commissioner Willy Gort under police internal investigation for gun allegation

An aide to Miami Commissioner Willy Gort faces a police internal investigation for allegedly displaying a weapon in a Miami restaurant and threatening to hurt himself.

The staffer, former Miami police Sgt. Placido Diaz, 44, is a reserve officer. Diaz was not arrested or required to undergo immediate psychological evaluation following the Jan. 7 incident at Los Ranchos restaurant at Bayside, prompting a second internal investigation into the way the incident was handled by the responding officer.

“That officer did not notify anybody above him of what happened,” Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa said. “He should have notified his supervisor, who should have notified Internal Affairs. They would have gotten [Diaz] the help he needed.”

Diaz declined to comment. The commission aide spent two decades with the police department, Orosa said.

According to the police report, patrons called 911 after an armed man threatened to hurt himself inside the establishment.

Officer Carlos Mendez responded. He first interviewed a restaurant employee, who said he heard a commotion and saw a man leave the restaurant with a gun, according to the report. Mendez then spoke with Diaz, who said there had been a family disagreement, but that nobody threatened to hurt themselves. Diaz’s daughter and son-in-law corroborated that account.

Diaz voluntarily turned over his gun to the police department “for safe keeping,” according to the report. He later retrieved the weapon. Diaz has since been suspended from the reserve police officer program and has scheduled a psychological evaluation, Orosa said.

Diaz continues to work for Gort. The commissioner declined to comment.

Orosa said he would not release the 911 tapes or any other records relating to the case because they are part of the Internal Affairs investigation. Meanwhile, the department has launched the separate probe into Mendez’s handling of the case. In the report, Mendez wrote that he knew Diaz and listed himself as the “victim.”

Mendez has not been disciplined, Orosa said.

The incident was first reported in the Miami blog The Crespogram Report.

El Nuevo Herald staff writer Melissa Sanchez contributed to this report.

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