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3 Miami Cops Fired After Calling a Primarily Black Community ‘Target Practice’

A trio of Miami Police officers has been relieved of duty after serving a probationary period for group texts joking about using a predominately Black community as target practice.

The officers identified as Kevin Bergnes, Miguel Valdes and Bruce Alcin were fired two days before Christmas for their incendiary remarks. In a WhatsApp thread from June 30, one of the three men asked his colleagues did they know where the closest shooting range was. That’s when the former officers began to rattle off a litany of racially insensitive jokes.

“Anyone know of an indoor shooting range in Miami?” Another officer replied, “Go to Model City. They have moving targets,” and another wrote, “There’s a range in Overtown on 1 and 11. Moving targets and they don’t charge.”

Documents from the department’s internal investigation also show that they joked about the heroin epidemic that plagues the community. These remarks come at a time when the Miami Police Department is under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Justice in the wake of a series of police-involved shootings.

The officer’s attorney, Stephen Lopez, believes the jokes were taken out of context and the three should not have lost their jobs.

“It was in bad taste and it was an off-color remark,” he tells Local 10 News. “We know there are some officers that engaged in serious misconduct, betrayed the badge and these officers weren’t them.”

In the wake of the firings, Miami Fraternal Order of Police president Javier Ortiz came out against the texts, but he also criticized City Manager Danny Alfonso for firing the officers.

“The FOP doesn’t agree with the joking texts made about Northwest First Avenue and 11th Street,” Ortiz posted on Facebook. “However, maybe the manager should be focusing on why that specific area is spoken about so often.”

Ortiz added that the primarily Black district is out of control. “But the manager [would] rather focus on text messages than the senseless killings and violent crime in the Overtown/Model City areas,” he said.

It turns out that others share Ortiz’s sentiments. Community activist Robert Malone feels the officers should have been reprimanded, not fired. “I’m hoping someone in our community does not use this and kind of explode it and make it appear to be something that it’s not,” Malone says.

Meanwhile, Lopez believes the city is discriminating against his clients, since Alcin is Black and Valdes has a Black grandfather. He even told the Miami Herald that his clients could not be racist because they have “black blood pumping through their veins.”

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