A Miami police sergeant who is also the vice president of the police union was suspended Friday after video surfaced of him tossing Jewish religious items into the back of a truck while saying he was “taking out the trash.”
Sgt. Roberto Destephan, a 13-year veteran and second in command of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, was relieved of duty pending an investigation into his actions.
“The actions of this employee were found to be inconsistent with the mission and values of our department,” Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina said in a written statement. He described Destephan’s comments on the video as “anti-Semitic.”
The video was first reported by WPLG- 10, which said it was passed along by a local attorney.
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Despite the disturbing nature of the video, the union came to Destephan’s immediate defense, saying it was an unedited clip that was several years old and the release of the clip was aimed at hurting the sergeant during the union election cycle.
“Various items including religious books and other miscellaneous items were discarded for health reasons,” said FOP President Edward Lugo. “The books were contaminated due to the mold [and] termites and needed to be discarded in the trash.”
In the cellphone video, Destephan, not in uniform and standing outside the FOP’s Miami office, shows a wooden box with the Star of David. He’s also holding a copy of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.
“We don’t need this s--t either,” he says.
He tosses the box into the back bed of a pickup truck, looks directly into the camera and says, “taking out the trash, dawg.” Then, he tosses the book in behind it.
The FOP said the video was sent to Destephan anonymously with a note that told him to step down or it would be released to the media.
Colina said the department is conducting an internal affairs investigation.