I am a firm believer of innocent until proven guilty. Having said that, I also believe that there is no room for a dirty cop in law enforcement.
Back in 2015, a Hialeah police officer has been accused of harassing a then 17-year-old girl. This was confirmed four years ago by Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velázquez said.
Sgt. Jesús “Jesse” Menocal Jr. stopped the girl and her friend for making an illegal U-turn. The women were taken to the Hialeah central police station. The younger of the two women complained that she was harassed.
Miami Herald news partner CBS4 interviewed the 17-year-old, who did not want to be named at that time. Now being over the age of 18, she has been identified as Maley Dacosta.
She said that Menocal Jr. told her “to take off my pants or I was going to get arrested.’’
She also said that Menocal Jr. told her to take off her shirt and bra but she refused. He then released her, and she returned to the car where her 20-year old friend, was waiting.
Menocal Jr., was a Hialeah SWAT team officer with eight years in the department at the time of the accusations, has been under investigation and was suspended with pay, Chief Velázquez said.
(Video above of Sgt. Jesús “Jesse” Menocal Jr. produced by Rosco Manufacturing, seemingly highlighting him as one of their influencers. From Rosco: “We introduce you to Jessie Menocal Jr. (Menocal International Training) in this short bio in order to give you a bit of background on the Barrel Gang.”)
He also said that Hialeah police leaders met with the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office to coordinate the delivery of evidence as the investigation moved forward.
“This is a very delicate road … and we seek to be impartial,” said Velázquez. “Our job is to get to the bottom of this. If it is proven that there was wrongdoing, the appropriate decision will be taken. Otherwise, he will return to work.”
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández said he was confident that police were handling the investigation appropriately.
Velázquez said that he, attorney Hillah Méndez, legal counsel for Hialeah police, and high-ranking officers in the Internal Affairs Department met for nearly two hours with the state attorney’s Public Corruption Unit.
Following “the protocol for these cases,” Velázquez said that Menocal Jr.’s weapon was removed, he was relieved of his assigned patrol, and that his keys were turned in to his bosses.
“Removing a police officer is a difficult decision,” Velázquez said. “But this decision is taken because the allegation about his conduct is very serious and what we pursue is to protect our community.”
Velázquez said Menocal Jr. has an impeccable record; he was promoted to sergeant a year ago.
“He has proven to be a 100-percent proactive officer, which is why I was surprised,” Velázquez said. “Yet when facing a situation like this we must reassure people’s trust and be clear that if there is this type of allegation, we will address it in a very serious manner.”
That was 2015. This is now. Dacosta, 21, filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade circuit court back in June. That filing repeats many of the same allegations and included new accusations that were not listed in the original complaint.
It turns out, as detailed by the Miami New Times, the department lied and Menocal Jr. was never suspended or taken off the street. In fact, the investigation into the allegations is still open, four years after they were supposed to have taken him off the street.
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Menocal Jr. just happens to be the son of Jesús “Jesse” Menocal, who retired as Sweetwater police chief in May of 2015. He had not commented previously on the case. But now, when reached by phone, the elder Menocal confirmed that his son was now working communications rather than patrolling the street.
Critics have been quick to point out that, as a cop with plenty of power, it was Menocal Sr. that may have helped his son avoid suspension and possible termination and criminal charges.
That is not the first time that the Menocal family has been accused of illegal activity and wrongdoing.
In 2015, Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement investigators went to Sweetwater.
They ended up sticking around for a month and a half, after finding the city’s property room was mess.
Sweetwater’s Property and Evidence Room was then sealed.
The FDLE auditdetermined many items that are supposed to be in that room are nowhere to be found.
“It didn’t take much from walking in the door and looking in the evidence room to realize there was a problem,” said Interim Police Chief Placido Diaz.
His comments were made at a press conference announcing the findings of the audit Wednesday.
“Given the history and past incidents, what I’d heard to be the clandestine property room, this raised the hairs on the back of my neck.”
Chief Diaz and Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez requested the FDLE to audit in June, just one month after the retirement of Menocal Sr.
The audit found a pattern of “Incomplete Documentation of Room Access Logs”, “No Uniform Dual Evidence Control” and “Incomplete Property Receipts.”
In all, a total of 7,877 evidence and property items are missing, including 19 weapons, 177 valuables, 19 bikes and 44 items from the narcotics cage.
“I’m not surprised. There have been rumors for the last year or two that there were firearms removed from the police department by at least one police officer. It is disturbing,” said Mayor Lopez.
Not long before the audit, Sweetwater’s then-Mayor, Manny Maroño, was arrested on corruption charges.
“That’s when you started asking more questions and that’s when all these problems started arising,” Mayor Lopez said.
“This is an administration that wants transparency and wants to talk this department forward. I think this is the first stop in bringing this department to the next level,” Chief Diaz said.
It is also worth mentioning that the patriarch of the Menocal family was denied employment with the Miami Police Department in 1985, after he was named in an investigation into drug trafficking.
Menocal was allegedly the middleman between a drug kingpin and someone on the inside of the Miami PD. That someone happened to be his brother, Ignacio. While charges were never filed, the MPD refused to hire him, based off the IA investigation and subsequent report.
And as is typically the case, social media users are weighing in. But these are no ordinary users. These appear to be cops, posting anonymously on a website called LEOAffairs.com.
“Another member of the Menocal Crime Family (Jessica) has just graduated from the academy. They will now have family embedded in 6 six different so fla LEO agencies, which expands their narcotics protection racket. Despite numerous interdictions of tons of cocaine at sea, not one large cocaine bust has been made on US soil in modern times thanks to the efforts of the Menocals. This only works due to the blind dumbazzes (sic) who employ them, said one poster.”
Another post read:
“There are scores of well documented news stories written about the corrupt Menocal family? Jessie’s daddy presided over Sweetwater PD, which the FDLE called “an Organized Criminal Enterprise” under his leadership. His dad and his uncle worked for major cocaine traffickers in the 80’s, using their uniform to rob kilos from other dealers. When that became too hot, they moved into the cocaine trafficking protection racket which exists to this very day. The Menocals are now in 6 different South Florida LEO agencies, writes another.
A third poster wrote:
“Then there is Jessie Jr. who’s (sic) family had to pull his ass out of the fire after he forcibly undressed that child while masturbating and tried to rape her while in uniform. Yes, essentially at gunpoint! The investigation was spiked at the chief’s urging (after being bribed) and to this day junior has never been exonerated. Then there is the fact that the entire family illegally abuses anabolic steroids, a controlled substance.”
Media records searches do not reveal that the FDLE referenced the phrase “organized criminal enterprise” when discussing Menocal’s run as chief of Sweetwater’s PD.