The murder mystery surrounding a Miami police officer got even more puzzling on Monday when his girlfriend said the cop shot himself during a struggle, and Miami police confirmed they both missed work leading up to the discovery of his body last week.
Tiniko Thompson, a public service aide in Miami, called the incident “accidental,” and said Carl Patrick had been abusing her for two years. She said the two were struggling for his weapon last week in a bedroom in the home they shared in Pembroke Pines, when he slipped in a corner and the gun fired.
The shooting, according to Thompson, happened Wednesday morning. Patrick’s body was found Friday afternoon. Thompson, scared and confused, spent most of the 48 hours between the shooting and the discovery of her boyfriend’s body under a bridge in a black BMW owned by Patrick, her attorney told the Miami Herald.
“He was fighting me, hitting me, grabbing me, scratched me and he grabbed my mouth,” Thompson said Monday in a lengthy interview with NBC 6, seated on a couch next to attorney Rod Vereen.
When the gun went off, and as Patrick was dying, she said that the man she shared a home with for the past two years told her, “You bitch.”
Thompson showed bruises on her arm and neck to the television camera.
Vereen said his client panicked after the shooting, found a sink and washed blood off her pajamas, then wrote a note explaining how Patrick accidentally shot himself during the tussle. Vereen said Pembroke Pines police should have found the note when they swept through the house Friday.
Police aren’t talking, although they issued a statement after Thompson’s interview aired on Monday evening, saying detectives would like to speak with her.
Pembroke Pines police discovered the body of Carl Ronald Patrick, a 25-year Miami police veteran and member of the department’s Honor Guard, in his Pembroke Pines home at 2:47 p.m. Friday. They called the death a homicide, “as a result of a gunshot wound.”
Vereen said the two began arguing last Tuesday night over an unannounced visit by Thomposon’s mother, and a maxed-out credit card. The attorney told the Miami Herald that after Patrick got dressed for work Wednesday morning, the couple were still arguing. He then reached for the gun he keeps on a dresser next to his bed.
“There was a struggle,” Vereen said. “He sticks [the gun] straight in her mouth. She grabs him and starts screaming. She’s holding onto the gun. He punched her. When he slipped, he pulled the trigger. When he pulled the trigger, he shot himself.”
Then, according to Vereen, Thompson got into the BMW and drove and slept in it for the next 48 hours, until she informed her mother, who called 911. Vereen said Thompson didn’t call police because she feared being killed.
Thompson, Vereen said, had a miscarriage of the couple’s child in June, an event that Patrick wanted kept quiet, the attorney said.
Pembroke Pines police didn’t discover Patrick’s body until Friday afternoon, after his 86-year-old mother, Lucille Patrick, called police asking for help because her son hadn’t responded to phone calls. Miami police showed up shortly after the body was found.
“He always calls me back when I call him,” Lucille Patrick said.
Pembroke Pines police, who are investigating Patrick’s death, released a statement after Thompson’s interview: “As a result of her recent statements to the media, detectives from the Pembroke Pines police department would like the opportunity to speak with her regarding this incident, and will continue to reach out to her and her attorney.”
A law enforcement source told the Miami Herald that detectives found Thompson at her mother’s home in Opa-locka after Patrick’s death, but she refused to talk.
Thompson is listed on the Miami police college website as a member of the academy’s administrative support staff. She has not been arrested or charged with any crime.
Patrick’s younger brother, Michael Patrick, confirmed that Carl Patrick, 52, was involved in a relationship with Thompson, who was at the family home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Miami police on Monday said Thompson had not been at work since March. She used family leave and sick time in the weeks leading up to Patrick’s death. Patrick missed work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week. His body was discovered Friday afternoon.
Police said someone called in sick for Patrick at least two of those days — but even that is shrouded in mystery.
“We’re looking now to see if he called in sick — or if someone did on his behalf,” said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.
Miami police union president Javier Ortiz said Patrick was found wearing his police uniform; his lunchbox and city-issued laptop computer were inside his patrol car in the driveway. It could indicate, Ortiz said, that Patrick was killed on his way to work.
The veteran cop patrolled Miami’s North District. A graduate of Central High, Patrick joined the Army after high school and served stints in Japan and Afghanistan. Fellow officers who remembered Patrick as humble, quiet and friendly expressed shock at his death.
Miami commanders had a chaplain visit the troops during roll call Sunday afternoon.
A moment of silence honored Patrick during a swearing in-ceremony Monday at Miami police headquarters, and city flags were lowered in honor of the fallen officer.