A Miami firefighter has been suspended after writing a callous, offensive message that made a mockery of a fallen police officer who was killed in the line of duty.
Officer Cesar “Echy” Echaverry, 29, served for five years at the Miami-Dade Police Department. On the night of Monday, August 15, he responded to a robbery and was shot in the head by the perpetrator.
On Wednesday, Echaverry died at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.
After news of his death broke, Kevin Newcomb, a Miami firefighter of 9 years, sent a message in a WhatsApp group chat, mocking the officer’s death and criticizing police officers at a time of grief for the community.
Just one day after Echaverry was taken off life support, Newcomb, whose father is a retired captain in the fire department, wrote,
“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. Cops exist for the government to exercise its monopoly on violence. They want the whole world to stop when one of theirs goes down. How many idiots I had to transport with honor guard their dead bodies from coronavirus because they were all too stupid to wear masks or get vaccinated. All cops are for is protecting the rich property owners and the status quo. Everything else is a farce. F*** the police.”
After Newcomb’s vile message went viral internationally, Alex Cardenas, the president of Miami’s firefighter union, gave a statement saying that his department is fully supportive of the police.
“What we do want to make clear is that our firefighters and our Fire Department fully support our police,” said Cardenas. “As city of Miami firefighters, we work alongside hardworking police officers every day to keep our city safe and greatly respect their work and sacrifice. We stand in solidarity and in mourning with our brothers and sisters in blue.”
Tommy Reyes, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, also issued a statement saying that he requested Newcomb 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 firefighter may not assist one of our members the way he should,” said Reyes. “… 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.”
On Friday, the City of Miami’s Fire Chief, Joseph Zahralban, issued an official statement condemning Newcomb’s message and confirming his termination from the fire department:
“Effective today, August 19th, 2022, the City of Miami Department of Fire-Rescue has terminated the employment of one of our firefighters.
We have confirmed that the firefighter in question authored a written statement using a social media platform that demonstrated disregard for human life, demonstrated a violent and antagonistic stance towards civil servants and represented conduct unbecoming of a Miami Firefighter.
These characteristics make it impossible for this individual to carry out his duties as a first responder in the City of Miami.”Advertisement
On Friday evening, Newcomb issued a public apology for his offensive message, saying that he wishes he could take back what he said. Newcomb also acknowledged the family of Echaverry, who is already mourning the loss of their loved one, and apologized for any additional hardship he may have caused them.
Addressing the family, Newcomb said,
“I wish them as much peace as possible and they deserve only kindness and support in this time. I hate to see suffering anywhere, and the worst kind of suffering is in those grieving a family member taken too soon. I take responsibility for the words I wrote, and I am so sorry to his loved ones if I have made this time worse for them.”
Newcomb also apologized to the Miami-Dade and City of Miami police departments, and “the community of police officers in south Florida,” for his insensitive words, saying,
“My words are not a reflection of the other firefighters I have worked with. I have had a constant flood of people reaching out to tell me that I was wrong, and I agree. My comments do not reflect the work that I did or the care I took in serving our City alongside them.”
“It shames me that I caused any measure of rift between our departments, “he added. “I hope I can one day earn the forgiveness of those who I have hurt. More importantly, I hope that my actions do not continue to distract from the mourning of Officer Echaverry, who did not deserve any of this.”