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Miami Police Officer Suspended After Throwing Away Tanakh

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Video surfaces of Miami police sergeant throwing Hebrew Bible in a truck while cursing

A Miami police sergeant is in hot water after a video reportedly showed him throwing a Jewish Bible into the back of a pickup truck and calling it “crap.” The officer has been suspended pending an internal investigation.

The 12-second video was reported on by WPLG-10, a local news station. The officer, who was apparently recording himself, is allegedly seen holding a Tanakh, a Jewish holy book, and a wooden box engraved with the Star of David.

“We don’t need this either, man,” the sergeant allegedly said, adding an expletive as he threw both items into the back of a red pickup truck. “Taking out the trash, dog,” he is said to have noted.

In an official statement on Friday, the chief of the Miami Police Department termed the video “disturbing,” adding that the sergeant has been suspended and an internal affairs investigation was underway.

“The actions of this employee were found to be inconsistent with the mission and values of our department,” Chief Jorge R. Colina said. “I would like to reassure our citizens of all faiths that we stand in solidarity with them.”

In a statement on Friday, the Miami Fraternal Order of Police identified the sergeant as Roberto Destephan, its vice president, the New York Times reported. It said that the video was “heavily edited” and that “the motive here appears to be political blackmail.” In the video, Sergeant Destephan appeared to be standing in the doorway of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police.

“John Cunill, a lawyer whose firm has represented Miami police officers and city officials, said he brought the video to the attention of WPLG, the local news station, “days ago.” He would not say how he obtained the footage,” the Times added.

The case comes less than two weeks after a pair of Jewish police officers filed a federal lawsuit against the Philadelphia Police Department, claiming a pattern of anti-Semitism by colleagues in their Franklintown-based district — including scratching a Nazi “SS” symbol into a locker and drawing a Star of David and the phrase “Hebrew Hammer” onto a door of a patrol car.

In the suit,” reported the Inquirer, Officers Stacey Gonzalez, “a 21-year department veteran, and Pavel Reznik, a Russian immigrant with 12 years on the force, allege that racist comments and anti-Semitic acts by a supervisor, Cpl. Karen Church, and more than 10 officers in the Ninth District at 401 N. 21st St., created an unsafe working environment and violated their civil rights. Mostly, the lawsuit says, co-workers would address the Jewish officers using ethnic slurs, and the officers endured daily off-color jokes at their expense.”

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ron Glassman

    12/11/2018 at 2:18 am

    My uncle, Jimmy Siegendorf, was the first Jewish Captain of Miami Beach PD. That was in the 1950s. He endoured relentless anti-Jewish remarks most of his career.

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