Miami Lakes voted Wednesday night to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Mayor Michael Pizzi’s car accident in which he crashed his black Kia Optima into a tree.
The vote, which was unanimous although Pizzi didn’t vote and Councilman Tony Lama was absent, came after a contentious special meeting that had residents shouting at each other over the matter.
This decision affirmed a recommendation by the town’s Public Safety Committee, which brought the issue before the council after several residents asked for an independent investigation into the accident.
“The manager will send a request to the FDLE, and I think it’s important we do this because there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Councilman Frank Mingo said after the meeting.
Pizzi, who removed himself from the dais prior to the vote on the advice of the town attorney, disapproved of the town’s decision, calling it “sour grapes” in a phone interview with the Miami Herald after the meeting.
“I have absolutely nothing to hide, and if my colleagues want to call for an investigation, go right ahead,” said Pizzi before stepping out of the meeting. “My answer to them is be my guest, do whatever you want to do, vote however you want to vote, and spend as many millions of dollars as you want to spend investigating me instead of focusing on the people’s business.”
For more than an hour Wednesday night residents spoke out regarding the crash, which took place just before 9 p.m. June 15 on Northwest 140th Street and 82nd Avenue.
Pizzi told police he was trying to avoid an animal when he hit the tree. Following the crash, Pizzi, the only one in the car, left the scene and returned shortly thereafter wearing a baseball cap. He had a cut on his forehead, but refused medical attention.
Miami Herald news partner CBS4 reported earlier this week that Pizzi was at a local bar, the Cancun Grill, prior to the accident.
When asked by the Miami Herald whether he was at the bar, Pizzi didn’t directly answer the question.
“I spoke to the police and the matter is closed,” he said. “After tonight I am not going to discuss this car crash again.”
Meanwhile, residents on both sides were angry.
“I think a person having an accident, especially if they are trained in the law, should wait for police or call the police, not run down the street and leave,” Paula Mark Hagen said. “I think that is suspect.”
Others say the town’s resources could have been better spent elsewhere.
“I wasn’t there to see why he left but I trust the police are doing their jobs,” said Rosalina Nunez, a resident.