Miami-Dade police aide on administrative duties after ‘monkey’ comment

Lawyers have text messages from the aide where he has apologized for his remark

Pablo Espinoza, public service aide, is under investigation for allegedly making disparaging racial remarks about a Black woman.

Miami-Dade County
Miami-Dade County police vehicle. (Photo by David Friedman/Getty Images)

A long-time public service aide is under investigation for allegedly making disparaging racial remarks about a Black female sergeant at the Miami-Dade Police Department.

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Pablo Espinoza, who is Hispanic, was called out by an attorney for reportedly saying Miami-Dade Schools Police Sgt. Tracy Moore “looks like a monkey,” right before he was set to testify in a hearing last month. An investigation is underway and Espinoza has since been placed on “administration duties” the Miami Herald reports.

“The Miami-Dade Police Department takes all complaints seriously and are committed to the highest performance standards and ethical conduct,” the department said in a statement. “We hold ourselves accountable for our actions and take pride in a professional level of service and fairness to all.”

Espinoza is responsible for overseeing the maintenance of breathalyzers, the breath-test machines which used to analyze if a driver is drunk, find more on this subject by checking Blood Alcohol Content and Breathalyzers here. Espinoza’s role requires him to often testify as a witness at administrative and criminal hearings. He has been applauded by organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his advocacy.

However, Espinoza is not a cop. As a public service aide, he can write traffic-accident reports, direct traffic and answer the public’s queries, the outlet reports.

Moore was arrested in July and charged with drunk driving. Her defense lawyer Michael Catalano is arguing that the breath test is not reliable, because Moore had recently undergone gastric bypass surgery and that might have affected the results.

According to Catalano, Moore was at a Florida Department of Motor Vehicles office on Sept. 4, waiting on an administrative hearing to fight to keep her license, when Espinoza made the derogatory racial remark about her.

“Your client looks like a monkey sitting there,” Catalano said Espinoza said to him.

“I was shocked. Nobody talks like that in 2019,” Catalano told the outlet.

Catalano shared what Espinoza said to Moore. He said he later sent Espinoza a text message demanding that he apologize for his insensitive comment.

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“Pablo. You have 2 hours to [apologize] for saying my [client] looks like a monkey or I report it to the director,” Catalano wrote in a text message. “I was disgusted by that and they have video in the hallway. Apologize and we drop it.”

Espinoza replied: “I’m apologizing. Done.”

Catalano reportedly was able to get Espinoza to admit in an Oct. 7 deposition meeting that he made the racist remark. Catalano followed up by informing Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez about what occurred and lobbied for Espinoza’s firing.

“My client and I are very upset about this,” Catalano wrote, according to the outlet which obtained a copy of the email. “How would he even think to say that? My client wants PSA Espinosa fired immediately.”