Chief: Coral Gables officer under investigation for kicking car thief
A Coral Gables police officer — once lauded as Officer of the Month for catching two robbery suspects — has been suspended with pay after he allegedly kicked a 17-year-old boy in custody, the department said Wednesday.
Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak Jr said he made the decision to suspend officer Andre Hammann based on the allegation and “preliminary information I received from internal affairs” while an internal and criminal investigation is conducted.
“We take these types of accusations very seriously,” he said Wednesday.
It all started at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning when Hammann, while on routine patrol, attempted to pull over a stolen car. After a brief chase, the car crashed at Southwest Eighth Street and 32nd Avenue. Police would not say what type of car the teen was in.
The teen, who was taken to a nearby hospital and has since been discharged, told an officer that Hammann had repeatedly kicked him. Hudak said an internal affairs investigation began right away, with the teen being interviewed in the hospital. The teen has not yet been criminally charged, police say.
Other officers at the scene were also being questioned, Hudak said. Very little information about the incident, including whether there was anyone else in the car with the teen, has been released. Police say the details are part of the open investigation.
By noon Tuesday, Hudak made the decision to place Hammann, who has been on the force for five years, on administrative leave.
“At the end of the day, my job is to make sure the integrity of the department is kept intact regardless of the actions or the allegations against one of the individuals,” he said at a news conference Wednesday. “As much as this is a dark moment for us right now … the officers, the supervisors, the systems we have in place for reporting this kind of conduct from within as well as how it was handled without has made me proud.”
In August 2014, Hamman was awarded Officer of Month after he was able to arrest two men wanted for robberies in the north end of the city.
“Officer Hammann’s keen eye, dedication to police work and willingness to always go the extra mile paid off that night,” his sergeant wrote. “Officer Hammann’s actions not only were instrumental in arresting these dangerous subjects but I am certain his actions prevented the citizens of Coral Gables from falling prey to these ruthless individuals.”