Major Miami Fallout in Wake of Elian Case

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - Miami's Police Chief on Friday resigned and the City Manager was fired by Mayor Joe Corollo in the wake of last weekend's federal government raid on the Little Havana home of the relatives of 6-year-old Cuban boat refugee Elian Gonzalez.

Miami Police Chief William O'Brien announced his resignation at a news conference. "I refuse to be chief of police in a city with a mayor as divisive and destructive as (Mayor) Joe Carollo."

O'Brien's decision to resign came hours after Corollo fired City Manager Donald Warshaw at Thursday night's Miami city commission meeting.

O'Brien, a 25-year veteran of the city police force, also said the Cuban exile outrage over Elian needed a focal point and added that he had received numerous calls supporting his actions over the affair.

"I know there's incredible anger and frustration in the exile community, and I want to tell you, if you're looking for a focal point for that frustration, here it is. I gave the orders," O'Brien said.

Carollo was angry because a city police officer worked with federal agents on the early morning raid and did not alert Corollo to the timing of the Little Havana action. Corollo had called several times for Warshaw to fire O'Brien over the weekend raid, an action that Warshaw did not take.

In firing Warshaw, Corollo said, " This is not an easy thing for me to do. I have gone through so much in my years as mayor that it would have been enough to kill 20 mayors. But I've never run away from my responsibilities, I've always put this city first. I have been, Mister Warshaw, an honorable mayor. I put this city above everything else."

Warshaw reacted by saying he ached over the city's problems and expressed his love for Miami and its residents.

"I'm sad for all that is happening in the city. Please be calm. The eyes of the world are watching us," Warshaw said.

Under the Miami city charter, the city manager oversees the police department, the fire department and the other city departments. However, the mayor does have the power to hire and fire the city manager.