Video shows police officer drinking alcohol at South Beach nightclub
Mike Muley’s boss called him an embarrassment for drinking on the job and unholstering his weapon. The chief spent eight months investigating the decorated sergeant’s actions, released a video of him appearing trashed at a Beach nightclub, then fired him.
The squabble between Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates and Muley two years ago led to an overhaul in the city’s overtime policy. Only on the job three months, Oate’s actions came after a string of incidents by his cops that had placed the department under an unseemly national spotlight.
On Tuesday, Muley, a 14-year veteran, returned to work.
His attorney Eugene Gibbons argued that his client was being treated unfairly and was in septic shock during the July 2014 episode at Mango’s Tropical Cafe that temporarily ended his career. In August, an independent arbiter ruled Muley could return to work if he successfully completed rehabilitation and was declared medically fit.
Oates, who issued a statement Tuesday on Muley’s return to service, said the sergeant had complied with conditions set by the arbiter and will be assigned patrol duties after undergoing training and “a period of re-acclimatization.”
Bobby Jenkins, president of the Fraternal Order of Police which represents Muley, said he is confident Muley can return to work and perform his required duties.
“Sgt. Muley has always been a decorated veteran of this police department and it is encouraging to see that despite his misstep, he will have the opportunity to once again serve this community honorably,” Jenkins said in a prepared statement.
The years-long fight between Muley and Miami Beach would never have happened if Muley had not taken an overtime shift for another cop on July 14, 2014.
He got to work a little late that night, at 11 p.m., and over the next few hours consumed at least six vodka cranberries, stumbled when trying to dance with a woman and partially unholstered his weapon, a Smith & Wesson 44 mm handgun.
Incensed, Oates spent eight months investigating the issue and even released the video from Mango’s and more than 200 pages of an exhaustive investigation into Muley’s actions that night. More than a dozen witnesses were interviewed.
Muley was eventually transported to Mount Sinai Medical Center, where police showed up and took a blood sample. The police department said he rang up a .287, more than three times over the legal limit to drive.
But that blood sample ended up helping Muley more than Oates.
After he was fired, Muley’s representatives at the Fraternal Order of Police filed a grievance. When the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, hearings were held over three days last June.
And though arbiter Roger Jacobs found that Muley was in fact intoxicated and did unholster his weapon, he also concluded that Miami Beach breached Muley’s privacy by going to the hospital and demanding a blood sample. The city was also required to help Muley fight his alcoholism, and did not.
“The city did not follow its obligations under the regulations as well as the collective bargaining agreement with the FOP,” Jacobs wrote.
Jacobs also took into account Muley’s 14-year history with the department, which is pockmarked with awards and heroism.
Like the time in 2002 when he heard a car crash into a canal near his Davie home. He managed to save two people after diving into the canal. A third person died. He received the department’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor and was named Officer of the Year.
In evaluations, supervisors describe him as “one of the hardest working police officers in the police department,” and “cool, calm, and collected” in stressful situations in performance reviews.
The firing of Muley by Oates came at a particularly sensitive time for Miami Beach. Oates was hired to clean up a series of explosive incidents by Beach police that began on Memorial Day 2011 when officers fired into a car being driven by Raymond Herisse on South Ocean Drive, killing him and badly wounding four innocent bystanders.
Then five weeks later on July 4, officer Derick Kuilan badly injured two beach-goers during a joyride in the dark of night on an all-terrain vehicle with a bride-to-be, when he ran over the couple.
Muley’s misdeeds at Mango’s two years ago came only a week after Kuilan was sentenced to 18 months in prison for drinking on duty and running over the beach-goers. Muley, as the sergeant in charge of the crew that night, was reprimanded.
Then in 2013, a teenager named Israel “Reefa” Hernandez was killed on North Beach after being shocked by an electronic Taser. Police had chased Hernandez after they found him painting grafittin on an abandoned McDonald’s.
Muley’s discharge by Oates also sparked a policy change for overtime work on Miami Beach for cops. Those details are still permitted, but only after training and shifts must be rotated every two or three hours. Beach cops are also no longer permitted inside a nightclub unless law enforcement action is necessary.