Black Female Cop Sues Florida Police After Being Demoted: 'A Slap in the Face'

A Black female police supervisor is suing the Miami Police Department and its new chief, alleging discrimination.

Keandra Simmons was demoted from a major to a lieutenant last week. Her demotion along with three others and other staffing changes was announced in a memo from Miami police chief Art Acevedo last week, NBC 6 reported.

But Simmons, 41, said her demotion, which she said comes with a pay cut of about $60,000 a year, was unfair and without justification.

She told the station that she is taking legal action to get her rank back, but also to send a message.

"I stand for every Black woman, every little girl, everyone who aspires to be something and to just be cut down after all the hard work, commitment, dedication that I have given to my profession, just overall as a Black woman, it's a slap in the face," she said.

A patch on Miami police officer
A patch is seen on the shoulder of a police officer as the City of Miami's new Police Chief Art Acevedo speaks to the media during his introduction at City Hall on March 15, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Simmons is seeking protections under state law as a whistleblower so she can keep her job at the department, according to NBC 6.

Her attorney, Michael Pizzi, claimed that Simmons' demotion was in retaliation for a statement she gave during an internal affairs investigation into Deputy Chief Ronal Papier and his wife, Commander Nerly Papier.

The couple were fired in June after a three-month investigation into Commander Papier over a crash in April involving her city-issued SUV.

According to the Miami Herald, Acevedo decided to fire her after internal affairs investigators concluded she left out important details about what happened. Ron Papier, who served as acting chief for two months before Acevedo took over, was fired in part because he didn't recuse himself from the investigation into his wife.

All Simmons did was provide "accurate and truthful information to her superiors under the appropriate rules and follow the rules and guidelines," Pizzi told NBC 6.

The attorney noted that Acevedo had vowed to improve the police department's relations with minority communities when he took over in April.

"For Chief Acevedo to come here and immediately demote and punish for no reason whatsoever the second highest ranking Black female officer in department history, that is not a way to heal this community," Pizzi said.

Pizzi has filed the complaint on his client's behalf with Miami's mayor, city manager, and the police department on Monday. Simmons also intends to file a discrimination claim with the federal government.

Simmons, Acevedo and the Miami Police Department have been contacted for comment. The mayor's office and city manager have also been contacted for comment.