Crime

Miami cop implicated in decade-old murder gets his job back

Miami police officer Adrian Rodriguez, seen here at an arbitration hearing in February, got his job back even though he is a suspect in a 2007 homicide. An arbiter ruled on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, that his firing was improper.
Miami police officer Adrian Rodriguez, seen here at an arbitration hearing in February, got his job back even though he is a suspect in a 2007 homicide. An arbiter ruled on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, that his firing was improper.

Adrian Rodriguez, the Miami police officer who was fired after refusing to cooperate with homicide detectives investigating his possible role in a murder, is getting his job back.

An arbiter on Tuesday ruled in favor of Rodriguez, whom homicide investigators suspect helped set up a robbery at a Miami cell phone store that ended with the shooting death of store manager Yosbel Millares.

Rodriguez, however, likely won’t be return to patrolling the streets because he remains a suspect in the 2007 killing of Millares. He will most likely be relegated to desk duty – while drawing a paycheck.

He also won’t be getting back pay, under the arbiter’s ruling.

“We’re in shock. We can’t believe he was able to get his job back,” Millares’ sister, Magnolia Millares, told the Miami Herald. “We’re all very sad and disappointed.”

Said Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes: “I'm disappointed with the outcome and will be meeting with our city attorney to look at our options.”

During several hours of questioning last week, fired Miami police officer Adrian Rodriguez refused to answer questions about a 2007 murder that investigators believe he knows about or helped set up.

The scrutiny on Rodriguez was first reported by the Miami Herald. At the time of the killing, Rodriguez was not a cop, but a 20-year-old employee at a MetroPCS store in Allapattah.

That day, Millares – a former U.S. Marine who was about to become a father – was gunned down in the parking lot at the end of his shift. He was on his way to deposit money when two gunmen appeared; one shot him in the stomach.

Homicide detectives never believed the store was targeted at random. Surveillance video showed the car the gunmen arrived in idling nearby before Millares headed to the bank. Rodriguez was interviewed the day of the shooting, but there was no evidence at the time he played a role in the incident.

He went on to join the Miami police department as a patrolman.

In 2010, Miami detectives learned that Rodriguez’s brother had confided to witnesses intimate details about the crime that the public did not know — including the alleged involvement of his brother, Adrian, and their father, Norberto. The cops believe the family arranged the robbery of the cell-phone store.

Three years later, detectives brought in Adrian Rodriguez for an interview. As soon as they told him they suspected his father took part in the botched robbery, Adrian Rodriguez clammed up, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Miami’s police chief fired Rodriguez in June 2016, after he refused to cooperate with homicide, and also for not informing his supervisors of his whereabouts on three occasions. Prior to his termination, he had been suspended with pay. Once he was fired, he no longer was paid.

Arbiter Donald Spero said Rodriguez was well within his rights to invoke the Fifth, and his firing was “improperly based” on him failing to speak about the killing. And as for not telling supervisors about his whereabouts, that “does not merit severe discipline,” Spero wrote in his 11-page ruling.

At a February arbitration hearing, Rodriguez’s union-appointed attorney, Eugene Gibbons, argued that his client was fired on trumped-up charges because detectives could not solve the decade-old murder.

He hailed Tuesday’s decision.

“He exercised his U.S. Constitutional right to assert the Fifth Amendment,” Gibbons told the Miami Herald. “He was thoroughly interviewed the day of the shooting. It was our position that he shouldn’t have been terminated.”

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