Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo moved a step closer Wednesday to terminating two of the city’s highest ranking officers — husband and wife Ronald and Nerly Papier — six weeks after one of them crashed a patrol vehicle and the proper chain of command was not followed, an internal investigation found.
Several other officers involved in the handling of the accident that resulted in two blown-out tires, also received written reprimands. The announced moves from the recently sworn-in chief were in line with earlier promises he made to shake up leadership and be accountable.
A short statement released by the department Wednesday said the Papiers were served reprimands that included a recommendation for termination that was related to a crash that didn’t involve any injuries and how it was handled.
“Final disposition of this matter is pending, therefore, no further statement will be provided at this time,” said Miami Police spokeswoman Kenia Fallat.
Miami police denied a request by the Miami Herald for the termination letters to the Papiers, or for any paperwork involving the discipline to any officers. Acevedo wouldn’t comment for this story.
Nerly Papier is one of the highest-ranking women in Miami’s police department. She’s served in several top posts, including Coconut Grove commander before taking over Little Havana’s Neighborhood Enhancement Team office a few months ago. She was recently featured by a local television station during Women’s History Month. Nerly Papier began her career as a temp, then worked as a secretary before moving through the ranks.
Ronald Papier was former Chief Jorge Colina’s top lieutenant and served as interim chief during the two months between Colina’s retirement and the swearing in of Acevedo.
The couple received written reprimands that included a recommendation for termination that still needs to be signed off by Acevedo and City Manager Art Noriega before becoming official.
The Papiers were initially suspended by Acevedo without explanation, two days after the accident. The internal affairs investigation into the accident was speedy, taking less than two months. About two dozen witnesses were interviewed. Fallat said the department wasn’t releasing the findings because the case had not been officially closed out.
The Papiers could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning and it was unclear if they had hired an attorney.
Wednesday’s terminations were the result of an April 2 incident in which Nerly Papier crashed her city-issued SUV into a curb on her way to work and blew out two tires. After the crash, Nerly Papier drove on to downtown Miami police headquarters, further damaging the vehicle’s rims and telling her bosses she thought she had a flat tire, according to sources.
Her husband Ronald Papier was serving as interim police chief at the time. It’s not clear what if anything he had to do with his wife’s accident.
The speed of the internal affairs investigation into the Papiers is in line with promises made from the new chief even before he was sworn in six weeks ago. Acevedo said internal investigations would be completed more quickly and also said he’d like to reclaim police shooting investigations from state police if it didn’t find a way to speed up the process.
The suspension of the Papiers and the fallout from the investigation caused a stir in Miami policing. Not only is it rare for officers of their rank to have jobs in jeopardy, but in the weeks leading to the internal affairs findings, the couple has been the target of anonymous emails that were sent to some officers and elected leaders, including Mayor Francis Suarez.