North Miami - NMB

The police chief was fired after Kinsey shooting — now 23 people want the position

Former North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene speaks at a press conference in July 2016, following the police-involved shooting of Charles Kinsey.
Former North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene speaks at a press conference in July 2016, following the police-involved shooting of Charles Kinsey. cjuste@miamiherald.com

North Miami’s police department hopes to find stability as the aftermath of the police-involved shooting of Charles Kinsey continues to make waves within the department more than a year later.

The city’s police chief Gary Eugene was fired this summer, and there are still multiple pending lawsuits against the department following the 2016 shooting.

Now, the city is searching for the next top cop to lead the force.

The city has received 23 applications from a mix of South Florida applicants along with officers from across the state and from places like Georgia, New Jersey and St. Louis, Missouri.

City Manager Larry Spring, who will choose the next chief, said he wants a candidate with an understanding of North Miami and South Florida but he also plans to prioritize applicants who have dealt with high-pressure scenarios — “someone who’s been put in critical situations and performed, someone who can handle crisis and prepare for crisis,” Spring said.

Some of the job functions for the position include “acting as a liaison between the police department and the public” and assuming “command of police activities on the scene of major police emergencies” along with skills like knowledge of police literature and public speaking ability.

Last July’s shooting drew national attention and sparked protests after Ofc. Jonathan Aledda fired his rifle and struck Kinsey, an unarmed behavioral therapist, as he cared for an autistic client.

Video shows the scene before and after caretaker Charles Kinsey is shot. He is seen lying in the street with a 26-year-old man with autism before being hit by a bullet from an assault rifle fired by a North Miami police officer.

Two top-ranking North Miami officers are also among the applicants: interim chief Larry Juriga and assistant chief Robert Bage.

Juriga was a central figure in the aftermath of the city’s investigation into the Kinsey shooting and the decision to fire Eugene and notify Cmdr. Emile Hollant of their plan to fire him.

Eugene was on medical leave when the investigation was finalized in June, so Juriga made the decisions to fire Hollant and to place Eugene on paid leave before he was also fired.

“A decision like that should be made by the chief, not the acting chief,” Eugene told the Herald.

In an interview with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement a few weeks after last summer’s shooting, Eugene said Juriga and Commander Angel Rivera had issues with Hollant and believes that the issues led them to mislead him and city leaders, including City Council members.

The former chief was so concerned about division in the department that he wondered if his officers would provide backup for each other.

“I’m afraid that one of them will get shot, for God’s sake, and somebody will call for backup and the other one will say, ‘I’m not going,’ ” Eugene told FDLE investigators.

Eugene and Kinsey both have ongoing federal lawsuits against the city.

Beyond those internal candidates, the other South Florida applicants include Gary Jeanniton, a police major with Miami-Dade police; Craig McQueen, a former major with Miami police and Cmdr. Raul Pedroso with the Coral Gables police department.

The next top cop will be the fourth chief to lead the force since 2014. Eugene followed Leonard Burgess, who resigned in May 2016, and Marc Elias, who resigned in 2014.

The salary range for the position is $109,990 to $162,843.

The remaining candidates are:

▪ Paul Anderson, former officer with Center Hill, Florida, police department.

▪ Terence Calloway, Florida A&M University police chief.

▪ Andre Dervil, no law enforcement experience; works as a wheelchair agent for Bags, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale.

▪ Prurince Dice, police major with the Albany, Georgia, police department.

▪ Arren Dodson, U.S. Capitol police.

▪ Sam Dotson, former St. Louis police chief from 2013 through April 2017. He resigned as a new mayor was elected earlier this year, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

▪ Joey Fajardo, no law enforcement experience; works as a marketing executive with Pure Beauty Farms.

▪ Glen Fowler, former Watauga, Texas, police chief.

▪ Jeffrey Gorley, director of public safety for the Birmingham, Alabama, Housing Authority.

▪ Robert Hertman, Wallkill, New York, police chief.

▪ Robert Jones, warden in the Carroll County correctional institute in Carrollton, Georgia.

▪ Michael Kopy, New York state police staff inspector in the department’s internal affairs bureau.

▪ Steven McCarver, St. Charles County Police Department field operations commander, located in O’Fallon, Missouri.

▪ John Pate, University Park, Illinois, police chief.

▪ Abdul Pridgen, captain with the Fort Worth police department. He was demoted from assistant chief after he was accused of leaking police body camera footage, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

▪ Sean Seibert, U.S. Army colonel. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2012 and 2014 in Texas’ 18th congressional district.

▪ Glen Smith, former Largo, Florida, police chief.

▪ Rick Tanksley, vice president at Hillard Heintze, a security consulting firm in Chicago. Former police chief in Oak Park, Illinois.

This story has been updated.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

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