Six firefighters in Miami were fired Wednesday after a September incident in which someone hung a noose over a photo of a black colleague’s family and drew lewd images on a picture of his wife.
During a police investigation into the Sept. 9 incident at a city fire station, more than 20 people were interviewed under oath, and nearly a dozen firefighters were investigated, the Miami Herald reports. Of those investigated, five remain employed by the department but are under close scrutiny.
Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso said in a statement that investigators had uncovered “sexually explicit and racially offensive conduct” by the city’s employees. After the incident was reported, personnel assigned to the station were transferred, and 11 firefighters were relieved of their duty with pay.
“We cannot and will not tolerate behavior that is disrespectful, hurtful and compromises the integrity of the department and the City of Miami,” Alfonso said.
Police initially looked into a potential case of vandalism at the station, but that ultimately turned into a civil investigation that was turned over to executives at the city’s Department of Fire-Rescue.
A noose made of twine was hung over a family photo belonging to a black lieutenant at the station. Lewd pictures were also drawn over several photos of his family members, including one of his wife and one of his children with their grandmother.
The six firefighters terminated were William W. Bryson, Kevin Meizoso, David Rivera, Justin Rumbaugh, Harold Santana and Alejandro Sese. Their termination letters said that the firefighters “defaced several personal photos of a fellow firefighter with graphic and obscene phallic renderings.”
According to the letters, it was Sese’s idea to deface the photographs, and he was the one who retrieved them. Meizoso, Rumbaugh and Santana reportedly drew lewd, phallic images on the photos. Rivera reportedly returned them to their picture frames. Bryson allegedly failed to stop the vandalism, then ignored requests to come forward and report the incident.
Investigators were unable to determine who made the noose.
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