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Local cops arrested

Posted on July 05, 2012 12:00 AM EST

Three Homestead police officers were placed under arrest Monday night for their alleged involvement in a series of beatings that occurred outside a local bar last year. All of the officers have each retained a Miami criminal lawyer to defend the charges. The first officer accused of committing a criminal offense is Sergeant Jeffrey Rome. He is alleged to have beaten and/or pepper-sprayed three men outside Celio's Latin Quarter Bar. According to court documents and the arrest warrant, two of the incidents were recorded on surveillance tapes. The odd part is that the video was taken by undercover officers investigating human trafficking that was occurring at the bar. Rome is charged with the offense of battery, false imprisonment and abuse of the elderly.

Two other officers, Sergeant Lizanne Deegan and Officer Giovanni Soto are also accused of being involved in separate beatings that occurred outside the same bar. Deegan is charged with official misconduct, while Soto is charged with simple battery and official misconduct. All of the officers have been suspended with pay since the allegations came to light in April 2011. All of the defendants were arrested and were released from the Miami-Dade County Jail after posting bond. All of the officers exited the jail by hopping a fence and climbing into a black SUV to avoid and confrontation with the press who were waiting outside the facility.

According to the arrest warrants which are now public record, Rome is accused pepper-spraying a man three times outside the bar. The bar is frequented by Hispanic migrant workers. According to the victim, he had been robbed outside the bar and went to Rome for help. Instead of helping the victim, the warrant alleged that he used his pepper-spray. The warrant further alleges that in 2011, Rome dragged an elderly man out of the bar and kicked him in the head. The video purportedly shows Rome trying to revive the man by pouring water on him.

Deegan and Soto were charged with another beating that occurred outside of the bar. The victim told investigators that Soto repeatedly beat him outside the bar and then dropped him off at his home. The victim requested medical treatment, but was refused. However, according to the warrant, Soto called 911 and the victim was transported to Homestead Hospital. Deegan allegedly followed the ambulance to the hospital, took crime scene photos and provided the victim with a police case number. She is charged with official misconduct for failing to author a report regarding the incident. The attorneys representing the defendants made statements to the effect that each of their clients will be exonerated of all the charges once they are able to avail themselves of the criminal process.

Three Homestead Officers Charged in Beating Case, Miami Herald.com, July 3, 2012.
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