Fla. cop suspended over offensive TikTok videos
Union officials criticized the suspension, saying it was more about "internal politics within the department"
By Lisa J. Huriash
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — A Coral Springs police sergeant has been suspended without pay for two weeks after investigators said he posted two offensive TikTok videos, including one in which someone sings a song asking President Donald Trump to send Mexicans back to Mexico.
Sgt. Gilbert Monzon must undergo 40 hours of racial bias and sensitivity training, according to documents released this week. Although the police chief recommended he be demoted to patrol officer effective January, he was spared that punishment by the city manager.
Monzon, 36, is a 12-year veteran of the force who's among the officers lauded for helping injured victims to safety after the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in 2018.
He could not be reached for comment at the department Thursday. Rod Skirvin, president of the Broward County Police Benevolent Association union, said the video, which included elements aired on the television show "South Park," was "sent from one officer to another and neither officer found it offensive."
He called the investigation a "witch hunt" and said it was more about "internal politics within the department." He said Monzon is a "hero" with a tenured career.
One of the videos features a robot-like voice that says "scanning for Mexicans," then stops at a Coral Springs police officer who appeared Hispanic. The robot voice then says, "We've got a Mexican."
That officer, originally from Venezuela, laughed during the video.
But a citizen who saw the TikTok video found it so offensive he reported it to the city's mayor and two commissioners, and then the citizen searched for other videos.
In a second video, someone is heard singing the lyrics, " Donald Trump, send me home, back to where I belong, back to Mexico, to see my papa."
The internal affairs investigation accused Monzon of unprofessionalism.
Both videos "disparage the plight of Mexicans in the United States," according to the agency's internal affairs report. Investigators said the first video has audio tract that mocks border agents scanning for Mexicans. In the second video, "it's making light" of the President sending Mexicans back to Mexico.
Monzon told investigators he intended for the videos to be satire and "to connect with the newer guys at work" by "trying to think outside the box."
Monzon, who is Cuban, said he is "often referred to as the Mexican sergeant" and hadn't meant any offense and meant to also laugh at himself.
"I cannot see that being offensive in any way," Monzon, who had tried to cover his police badge with a sticker shaped like a Band-Aid, told investigators. The videos, he said, "humanize the badge."
The police department paperwork said regardless of intent, the videos do not reflect the standards of the police department.
The agency said Thursday that Monzon served his 80-hour suspension during September and October, and was required to "educate the department" at each roll briefing with a "sincere" PowerPoint presentation about responsible use of social media and the agency's policies.
(c)2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)