A Miami firefighter was fired Friday after the department determined he was the author of a callous social media post about the shooting death of a Miami-Dade officer that outraged many officers and drew a formal complaint from the police union.
The Thursday post, which also criticized police officers in general, circulated in social media as the South Florida law enforcement community was mourning the loss of Cesar Echaverry, who was shot in the head during a shootout with an armed robbery suspect and died Wednesday evening.
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban said late Friday afternoon that it was a Miami firefighter who was responsible for the posts.
“We have confirmed that the firefighter in question authored a written statement using a social media platform that demonstrated a disregard for human life, demonstrated a violent and antagonistic stance towards civil servants and represented conduct unbecoming of a Miami firefighter,” Zahralban said in a prepared statement.
Though Zahralban and the department refused to name the fired employee, nine-year firefighter veteran Kevin Newcomb — in an email to the Miami Herald — admitted he wrote the screed, apologized to the public and the fire department and said he regretted making the statements.
“I did not intend to hurt anyone, let alone so many people,” Newcomb said. “First and foremost, I sincerely apologize to those closest to Officer Echevarry who have been made to feel more pain because of my words. I wish I could take them back. I wish them as much peace as possible and they deserve only kindness and support in this time.”
Newcomb said he made the statement in a private chat among friends, without explaining how they appeared on social media posts. Several media reports say Newcomb made the statement on a group chat in WhatsApp.
The post was made on a social media site attributed to Newcomb, whose father is a retired captain in the fire department.
The firefighter’s Instagram and Facebook pages appear to have been taken down. The rant, which was posted Thursday, made international headlines. Outlets in the United States and United Kingdom posted the anti-police rant with his name and image a day before the department said a firefighter was fired.
The post, which came the day after Echaverry had been removed from life support, read in part:
“Who cares another dead cop probably against gun control. They didn’t give a f— when kids were dying in that school shooting they stood outside,” the post read in part. “Cops exist for the government to exercise its monopoly on violence. They want the whole world to stop when one of theirs goes down.”
It went on to say that the firefighter had lost count of how many “idiots” he had to transport because they refused to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic and ends with the writer saying “f— the police.”
Just before news broke Friday of the firing, Alex Cardenas, president of Miami’s firefighter union, said his department was fully supportive of police.
“As city of Miami firefighters we work alongside hard-working police officers every day to keep our city safe, and greatly respect their work and sacrifice,” Cardenas said.
The comments raised the ire of many officers, who shared it in group chats and on social media. On Thursday, Tommy Reyes, president of the Miami’ Fraternal Order of Police, issued a statement, saying he had requested that the firefighter be removed from duty pending the investigation.
“These comments are disgusting and lead me to worry for the safety of our members, fearing that this fire fighter may not assist one of our members the way he should,” Reyes said. “…. I want to remind our members that this person’s statement does not reflect the feelings of all of our fire department brothers and sisters.”