Photo Shows 2 Officers Partying Before ATV Crash
Updated On: Jul 26 2011 06:07:04 AM EDT
One of two Miami Beach police officers who were fired from the force after a crash involving their police-issued ATV injured several people turned himself in to jail Tuesday.
Derick Kuilan faces two counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and two counts of driving under the influence causing serious injury to another in connection with the July 3 incident.
Kuilan and another officer, Rolando Gutierrez, lost their jobs after the incident. Kuilan is accused of picking up a woman at the bar at the Clevelander, a popular bar and restaurant on South Beach, and giving her a ride on his police-issued ATV -- a direct violation of department policy.
The Miami Beach mayor, the chief of police and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle held a news conference Tuesday afternoon about the arrest. They released a photo that they said shows Gutierrez and Kuilan, who were on duty, taking photos with a group of women in a bachelorette party, including the woman who was later involved in the ATV crash.
"Both officers -- their activities, their actions, their behavior -- was so unprofessional that the five women believed they were perhaps some type of entertainment that was there for the bachelorette party," Rundle said.
After partying on the club's dance floor, police said Kuilan then invited the 27-year-old bachelorette, seen wearing a crown in the picture, aboard his department-issued ATV for a ride on the beach, a violation of police department rules.
Police said Kuilan was driving the ATV on the sand near Fourth Street and Ocean Drive when he ran over two people who were waiting for the sun to rise.
Court records show the vehicle was moving fast and without headlights when it hit the pair.
"This is an incident that obviously left a sting on the organization, no doubt about that," said Police Chief Carlos Noriega.
Kitzie Nicanor, 29, ended up in a coma after the crash. Her father told Local 10 on Tuesday that she is out of the coma and that she remains at Jackson Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
Nicanor's friend, Luis Altamonte, was hospitalized with a broken leg. The woman riding on the ATV with Kuilan suffered minor injuries when she was thrown from the vehicle.
In the news conference, police said Kuilan's blood alcohol level was 0.088 percent, which is above the legal limit, about five and a half hours after the ATV crash.
Noriega fired both officers after learning the two were caught drinking on the job that night.
"Having drinks and doing what they did, it is mindboggling that they felt comfortable enough to do something like that. It's a fleeting act of stupidity. It was reckless," Noriega said.
Miami Beach Commissioner Mike Gongora said the criminal charges against Kuilan send the right message.
"I think that officers are not above the law. They're just like everybody else," Gongora said. "And if this officer in particular broke the law by driving an ATV on the beach while under the influence of alcohol, then he should be punished just like you or I or anybody else that would have done such an act."
Kuilan was booked just before 11 a.m. Tuesday. He remained silent as he walked out of jail Tuesday afternoon after posting bond.
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