November 14, 2019
Miami can fire cop, state appeals court rules — but it’s not because of links to murder case

Adrian Rodriguez, a Miami cop who has spent the past six years thwarting police department attempts to fire him after he was implicated in a murder, lost a major legal battle Wednesday when a state appeals court ruled the department had the power to toss him off the force for refusing to submit to a drug test. 

Implicated in the shooting death of a former U.S. Marine during a robbery at a mobile phone store where he worked almost a decade ago, Rodriguez had successfully fought off a string of arbitration and court proceedings since his initial firing in 2016 when he clammed up after detectives tried to interview him. 

On Wednesday, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that a lower court was correct when it determined the city had the right to fire Rodriguez last August after he refused to submit a urinalysis. Rodriguez had asked that the City of Miami be found in contempt for violating his arbitration agreement which reinstated him after his initial firing. The City of Miami argued it couldn’t reinstate the officer without a drug test because his training requirements had lapsed in 2017 after he’d been separated from the department for more than six months. 

Simply, after six years of being unable to fire the officer for his alleged involvement in a murder, Miami was finally told it had the right to remove Rodriguez because he refused to pee into a cup. 

“The judge made the right decision,” said Miami Deputy Police Chief Ron Papier. “He was a City of Miami police officer who refused to cooperate on a homicide investigation.” 

Rodriguez’s attorney Eugene Gibbons said his clients fight for reinstatement wasn’t over “by a long shot.” The attorney said Rodriguez will first re-petition the court in hopes it gives the contempt claim against the city a second look. And if that fails they intend to once again go to arbitration over the officer’s firing last August. 

“He’s entitled to a hearing and review on that,” said Gibbons. “I’m extremely disappointed in the court’s ruling.” 

Rodriguez was an employee at an Allapattah MetroPCS store in 2007 when store manager Yosbel Millares, a former U.S. Marine who was about to become a father, was shot to death. He was killed in the parking lot of the store while he was on his way to deposit money. Homicide detectives never believed the store was randomly targeted. Rodriguez was interviewed the day of the shooting but was not suspected of being involved.

Rodriguez became a City of Miami police officer a year later. By 2010, he was implicated in the murder when detectives learned from Kissimmee police that Rodriguez’s brother had confided to a friend in jail details about the crime that were unknown to the public. Included in those details was the alleged involvement of Rodriguez and his father Norberto Rodriguez. The call to the jailhouse was recorded by police. 

When detectives tried to interview Rodriguez in 2013 about his father’s involvement in the murder, the officer invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. He was fired in 2016, but won a series of arbitration and court hearings that allowed for his reinstatement, including one last August by the very same court of appeals that may have ended his policing career this week. 

In that ruling, the court upheld an arbiter’s determination that Rodriguez was well within his rights to invoke the Fifth Amendment. After the ruling, the city fired Rodriguez again for failing to submit a urine test. Almost immediately, Rodriguez and his attorney Gibbons filed a motion to hold Police Chief Jorge Colina and the city in contempt for the firing. It was that firing that the Third DCA upheld Wednesday. 

Adrian Rodriguez

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