News

Alex Diaz de la Portilla Accused of Injuring Code Compliance Employee at Illegal Party UPDATED

^

Maintain New Times Free

Support Us

Update, April 5, 11:55 p.m.: Following New Times published the narrative underneath, Benedict Kuehnean attorney representing Miami City Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, sent a letter demanding a retraction.The article involves an allegation by Suzann Nicholson, also a City of Miami code-compliance officer, that Diaz de la Portilla physically”poked and pushed” her since she was trying to research a report of a prohibited party at an Allapattah warehouse at the early hours of February 21. Nicholson has alleged her encounter with the commissioner led to an accident to her hip.New Times has since reviewed body-worn camera footage out of three teams of Miami police officers that were present at the scene. A number of the footage depicts Nicholson interacting with Diaz de la Portilla, however it doesn’t show any physical confrontation between the two.New Times stands by our report of the incident.Update, April 1, 2:25 p.m.: This story was updated to include further remark from commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla.A City of Miami employee has come forth to allege that town commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla poked and pushed while he was attending an all-star celebration in Allapattah at February. The girl says she lost her footing and sprained her hip, an injury that has required physical treatment. Suzann Nicholson, who at that time was a code-compliance inspector to the City of Miami, tells New Times she was participating in a joint operation with the Miami Police Department (MPD), investigating reports of pop-up and nightclubs clubs operating without permits and in breach of Miami-Dade County’s midnight curfew. The curfew was launched last year for a COVID-19 security step and remains in effect.On the night of February 21, Nicholson and MPD officers were assigned to research a club at 772 NW 22nd St. within a commercial region of Allapattah, that was supposedly operating without permits or licenses. The building is generally occupied by a business that sells pallets, but according to documents obtained by New Times, the distance was being used as a party place with a bar and a VIP section. Photographs provided together with the documents show that the event that night was known as”Museum Miami.” When Nicholson asked security guards for the club’s licenses or special-events permits, she states, she was introduced into an unexpected amount: Commissioner Diaz de la Portilla. “Instead of these bringing me the documents, they attracted me the commissioner. He was wearing a facemask using a City of Miami emblem,” Nicholson tells New Times.Nicholson states Diaz de la Portilla approached her and asked her who she was. When she told him she was a city code inspector,” she states, he began to poke and push aggressively and told her he”[her] type was not welcome . “Nicholson says she tried to clarify that she was performing a review at the education of the town code compliance director, however Diaz de la Portilla kept poking her till she stepped back, wrenching her stylish in the process. “Once I went to step back the previous time, he was gonI push me. I said,’Do not touch me, stop touching me.’ Reached by New Times via text, Diaz de la Portilla refused Nicholson’s allegation. “That never occurred. I attend heaps of events. I have never pushed anyone at these events. Never. And you don’t have any proof of this since it doesn’t exist,” Diaz de la Portilla said in a text.A photo Nicholson shot at the event that night — given to New Times in reaction to some public-records request — reveals a man Nicholson says is the commissioner, with no mask, standing at a barricaded part of the place near three scantily clad ladies. The picture’s timestamp is 12:24 a.m., nearly 30 minutes beyond the country’s curfew.

EXPAND

Photo via City of Miami

Diaz de la Portilla did not respond to some text out of New Times asking if he recognized himself at the photo.Nicholson states the officers that accompanied her pulled the commissioner aside and talked to him but took no additional action. She states Diaz de la Portilla then place his hands on her shoulder and told her he just wanted to do what he needed to do to get her to depart the venue.MPD spokesperson Michael Vega tells New Times that no arrests were made the night but the party was shut down and attendees were spat out of the building. He initially said no incident reports were composed, either.However, after this story was first published on the web, Diaz de la Portilla texted New Times a report on an incident report from the party registered with the Miami Police Department. The report clearly says that”Commissioner Dias De Portilla [sic] was at the place. “The commissioner tells New Times thatin my own opinion, the record vindicates him. “However, it doesn’t state I pushed anyone because. . .Had it occurred, it would, at the very least, [have] been at the report. Duh. “Vega later clarified a”generic” incident report had been registered. (Notably, the police report also suggests that a gun was discharged at the event, although there had been no reported injuries.)

EXPAND
A copy of the incident report reveals Diaz de la Portilla was at the February 21 party.

Around 3 a.m. on the afternoon of the party, Nicholson emailed her supervisor, assistant director of code compliance Eric Nemons, and mentioned that Diaz de la Portilla had been present at the event.But Nicholson says that after that first email, that New Times also acquired at a public-records request, she was instructed on the phone by her superiors to not mention Diaz de la Portilla by name at any additional communications.Nicholson publicly referenced the incident at a March 8 email on Nemons and Assistant City Manager Natasha Colebrook-Williams, explaining that she wanted it recorded because her injury was becoming worse. “I tried to speak with you concerning the incident with the commissioner on February 21, during the unpermitted specific event inspection,” Nicholson wrote. “During the poking and I lost my ground and even though I didn’t fall I assumed I was fine. Since that time I’ve been having problems with my left hip and also I would enjoy the episode recorded. She had to request worker’s compensation benefits and says she is still getting physical therapy because of her injury, which sometimes makes it difficult to sleep or walk.After the incident, Nicholson asked and received a move out of code compliance and into another city division. She states she was initially scared to talk about her run-in using the commissioner since she didn’t want to lose her job. She feels more comfortable coming forward nowshe says, since she believes it’s unfair that she is still in pain and Diaz de la Portilla has faced no repercussions. “I want people to learn how to respect other people. “He didn’t even call to apologize. I must go to treatment while he’s OK. “This isn’t initially Diaz de la Portilla has been associated with overaggressive behavior. In 2019, the commissioner was accused of Republicans while on the campaign trail. In 2019, an older woman at a senior housing complex said one of Diaz de la Portilla’s effort allies pushed her from a glass door when she accused the candidate of imposing absentee ballots.Diaz de la Portilla lately came under fire in relationship with a scenario between a”ghost employee” he hired on to perform at the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) while he was serving chairman out there. As first reported by the Miami blog Political Cortadito, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was investigating Jennifer Nillo, a former legislative aide to Diaz de la Portilla who was indicted in 2017 for 17 counts of mortgage fraud prior to the commissioner hired her to keep an eye on the Omni CRA.Diaz de la Portilla told Political Cortadito he hired Nillo into the CRA to”keep them ” but other employees state that at 11 months, she seldom came to the workplace, according to the Miami Herald.

Maintain Miami New Times Free… Because we began Miami New Times, it’s been defined since the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would love to keep it like that. Offering our subscribers free access to incisive coverage of news, culture and food. Producing stories on everything from political scandals into the newest bands, using gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who’ve won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award into the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. However, with nearby journalism’s presence under siege and marketing revenue setbacks having a bigger effect, it’s important now more than ever for people to rally support behind financing our regional journalism. You can assist by participating in our”I Support” membership program, enabling us to keep covering Miami without a paywalls.

News
Politics