Speeding Miami cop should be fired, probe says

An internal probe recommended that Officer Fausto Lopez, who routinely exceeded 100 miles per hour while off-duty, should be terminated.

07/16/2012 5:00 AM

09/17/2012 9:00 AM

A Miami police officer with a penchant for speeding — and whose video-taped traffic stop by a state trooper drew national headlines — should be fired, an internal investigation recommended.

According to a reprimand released Monday, Officer Fausto Lopez showed a “practice and pattern” of reckless speeding while off-duty in his take-home patrol car, consistently clocking in dangerous speeds over 100 miles per hour between September and November.

It was on Oct. 11 that a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, at gunpoint, pulled over a speeding Lopez on the Florida Turnpike in Broward County.

He was briefly handcuffed and later charged with misdemeanor reckless driving.

The traffic stop sparked tension between FHP and Miami cops, some whom claimed the trooper showed a lack of professional courtesy to a fellow law enforcement officer. Lopez, who was on his way to a off-duty job from his Broward home, also drew the wrath of members of the public who say cops too often get away with speeding.

The incident sparked an investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which analyzed SunPass toll data to calculate that Lopez and a slew of other local cops were speeding in their patrol cars while not on duty.

Lopez eventually pleaded no contest, paid $3,300 in fines and accepted 100 hours of community service.

Miami’s internal probe found Lopez guilty of several administrative violations, including breaching discipline, acting recklessly with city property and disgraceful conduct. Detectives also analyzed SunPass data, calculating the speed between toll booths and how long it took Lopez to get from booth to booth.

The city’s investigation has recommended discipline against 38 other speeding cops, with penalties ranging from reprimands to suspensions of up to two weeks, according to Miami police spokesman Delrish Moss.

Only Lopez was targeted for termination.

Lopez, in the reprimand, said he disagrees with the facts of the investigation and with the proposed firing.

He can now request that a panel of fellow officers review his case.

If he does not request that review, and Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa decides to fire him, Lopez can appeal to the city’s Civil Service board.

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