Miami fires firefighter after disparaging messages about police, slain detective

Miami fires firefighter after disparaging messages about police, slain detective
·3 min read

A Miami firefighter accused of writing dismissive comments about a slain detective in a WhatsApp group chat has been fired, authorities said Friday.

Miami-Dade Police Detective Cesar “Echy” Echaverry was fatally shot in the head Monday night while confronting a suspect. Firefighter Kevin Newcomb commented on the death in his WhatsApp group chat. “Who cares another dead cop probably against gun control,” he wrote, according to NBC Miami reported.

The outlet reported that his message also said: “Cops exist for the government to exercise its monopoly on violence. They want the whole world to stop when one of theirs goes down."

Newcomb could not immediately be reached Friday afternoon.

Miami Department of Fire-Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said Friday that the department had fired one of its firefighters, without naming who.

"We have confirmed that the firefighter in question authored a written statement using a social media platform that demonstrated a disregard for human life, demonstrated a violent and antagonistic stance towards civil servants and represented conduct unbecoming of a Miami Firefighter," he said in a statement. "These characteristics make it impossible for this individual to carry out his duties as a first responder in the city of Miami."

The firefighter's messages also mentioned the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and police officers who’d died from Covid-19 during the WhatsApp chat, according to NBC Miami.

“How many idiots I had to transport with honor guard their dead bodies from coronavirus because they were all too stupid to wear masks or get vaccinated,” he wrote, according to news station. “All cops are for is protecting the rich property owners and the status quo. Everything else is a farce.”

Zahralban had previously said that the fire department does not share the views expressed in the messages. "As public safety professionals, police officers and firefighters depend on one another to ensure our mutual safety," he said in an earlier statement. "It is the foundation of our working relationship and the source of our respect for one another.”

Zahralban said his department stands with law enforcement and the police department and Echaverry's family as they mourn their loss.

Alexander Cardenas, president of the Miami Association of Firefighters, said that the organization can’t comment on specific allegations against a member because of an ongoing investigation.

“What we do want to make clear is that our firefighters and our Fire Department fully support our police," he said in a prepared statement. "As city of Miami firefighters, we work alongside hardworking police officers every day to keep our city safe and greatly respect their work and sacrifice. We stand in solidarity and in mourning with our brothers and sisters in blue.”

Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, said that if the alleged comments render the firefighter unable to perform his job.

“While certain statements said in the heat of the moment can be understood, and with proper apologies worked through, the statement at issue was certainly thought out and illustrates a deep and abiding hate for law enforcement,” Stahl said in a statement.

Echaverry’s death was announced Wednesday.

NBC Miami reported that he was critically wounded in a shooting Monday after an armed robbery in Broward and pursuit, Miami-Dade police said. The suspect was also killed.

Echaverry was a member of Miami-Dade Police’s Robbery Intervention Detail, a unit that works in areas that are prone to crime and frequently encounters dangerous suspects, the news outlet reported.