Judge calls foul—then retracts in North Miami lawsuit

Lawyers for a former North Miami police officer upgraded his multimillion-dollar federal civil suit against North Miami on March 12.

Fired Cmdr. Emile Hollant, with the assistance of his lawyers, changed his federal whistleblower and civil rights complaint to include his December firing.

The attempt was originally struck down by a federal judge on March 6.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. changed course and granted Hollant’s request to add his termination to his list of complaints.

“We are very pleased that the court has permitted us to amend the complaint to add the charge that the city outrageously fired Cmdr. Hollant after he filed his lawsuit,” Michael Pizzi, one of Hollant’s lawyer, said. “We fully expect to receive justice in this case, especially with the amended lawsuit. “

Hollant was terminated on Dec. 8, 2017, three weeks after he filed a Nov.17 lawsuit against the city, the city manager, Larry Spring, Police Chief Larry Juriga, Councilman Scott Galvin and Internal Affairs Sgt. Diana Roman. The original complaint seeks $10 million in damages and accuses the defendants of defamation, denial of due process and violation of Hollant’s civil rights, among other claims.

Hollant was placed on administrative leave with no pay June 14, 2017 after he was accused of providing misleading information to investigators about the shooting of an unarmed Black man.

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was monitoring an autistic patient when he was shot by North Miami police SWAT officer Jonathan Aledda.

Aledda said that he mistook the patient’s plastic toy for a gun, according to a police report.

Hollant, the commander on the scene, said he walked away to retrieve his binoculars from his patrol car to get a clearer view of the object in the patient’s hand when the shots were fired, according to the lawsuit filed. However, two other officers told internal affairs that Hollant was at the scene at the time.

But three weeks later, the state cleared Hollant of all wrongdoing; however, he remained on administrative leave but with pay until his December firing.

One of Hollant’s lawyers, Benedict Kuehne, said that Hollant’s firing is illegal, referring it to as a “bad faith” and that it adds more damage to a veteran officer’s career after he was wrongfully accused.

“The city has added insult to injury and terminated a selfless public servant who provided public service for 20 years,” he said. “We plan to expose the city and its scheming practices…”

However, U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola Jr. had dismissed the amended complaint March 6, because Hollant, did not get the defendants’ or court’s consent before filing and the document was incomplete and illegible.

Pizzi said the judge found the document was illegible “because of a computer glitch.”

This story was originally published in The Miami Times March 12, 2018.

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