Homestead / South Dade

Homestead police officers fired in brutality cases, cover-up

 

atorres@MiamiHerald.com

Two police officers accused of assaulting men outside of Celio's Cuartel Latino bar in Homestead were fired along with another officer who allegedly covered up the incident, a police spokesman said Friday afternoon.

The police brutality incident happened nearly three years ago. It involved three officers who were fired in February and suspended with pay in April 2011. They were arrested in July and have cases pending with the Miami-Dade state attorney's office.

Sgt. Jeffrey Rome is accused of kicking a 69-year-old man in the head until he was unconscious and pepper-spraying an undocumented Guatemalan in the face from close range. While Officer Giovanni Soto allegedly beat up another man so badly with a nightstick that he disfigured his face. Meanwhile, Sgt. Lizanne Deegan is accused of failing to report the beatings.

"It is an embarrassment to the police department. It's bad for camaraderie,” Homestead Police spokesman Fernando Morales said. “It's bad for your fellow officers. It's never a good thing."

Morales said that before the firing, the police chief, the city manager and a board of senior officers reviewed the evidence and recommended that the officers be fired.

Immigrant farm workers frequent Celio's Cuartel Latino bar. Homestead detectives who were investigating human trafficking caught the attacks on video and took Arcadio Sosa Rodriguez, 69, to a nearby hospital.

According to a warrant Rodriquez spent a night in the hospital and had cuts and bruises on his ankle, knees and elbow.

Rome is also accused of pepper-sprayed another man in the face, handcuffing him to a fence, and sending away an ambulance that the man had called for, according to an arrest warrant.

Soto, who faces a felony battery charge, and Deegan are accused of misconduct.

Rome, 56, is facing felony charges of abuse of an elderly adult and false imprisonment, and a misdemeanor battery charge. Rome, who is a veteran in the department and was on the PBA's board of directors, entered a not-guilty plea last year.

The PBA union has blasted the investigation as politically motivated.

Read more Homestead / South Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK