All Eric McDonough wanted was for Homestead Police officer Alejandro Murguido to obey the same traffic laws he enforced in their neighborhood.
Instead, the 36-year-old scientist ended up in jail on charges of aggravated stalking and threatening a public servant because he confronted Murguido with his cellphone’s voice recorder outside the cop’s home two years ago. Since then, McDonough says Homestead Police Department brass have refused to investigate Murguido for falsely accusing him even though he has an audio recording that contradicts the cop’s version of events.
McDonough’s troubles with Murguido began on Oct. 24, 2012. McDonough was driving in Homestead, municipality in South Miami-Dade, when he claims Murguido began tailgating him in his patrol car.
“He went to pass me and it appeared as if he was going to hit my vehicle,” McDonough recalls. “I swerved to avoid him. A car heading in the opposite direction had to pull off the road to avoid a head on collision with Murguido.”
Five days later, McDonough, who lived down the street from Murguido, saw the cop in his front yard talking to his lawn man. He went to go talk to him about his reckless driving as he had done several times in the past, including once when Murguido begged him not to file a complaint.
“If I had a problem to bring it to his attention since we were neighbors,” McDonough says. “I never filed a report.”
This time, McDonough had enough. He turned on the audio recorder on his cellphone and walked up to Murguido. The audio recording, which you can hear below, proves McDonough was upset, but not combative.
“What is your problem with me?” Murguido says. “Did I write you a ticket? Did I do something to you?”
McDonough tells the cop to respect the traffic laws he’s sworn to uphold. “Can you not speed and not run through stop signs?” He says on the recording. “I would appreciate that.”
Murguido ends the conversation with a veiled threat. “The next time you come here you will have a problem,” Murguido says. “This is my house and you don’t have a right to be here yelling at me.”
McDonough turned off the recorder and headed back to his house. “I got about two blocks away before he got in his cruiser and chased me down,” McDonough recalls. “He demanded that I stop or that he would arrest me. He held me against my will on my street in front of my neighbors for over an hour and a half.”
At least 11 cops were on the scene. In addition to Murguido’s colleagues from Homestead Police, officers from Miami-Dade Police were also there since the alleged incident took place in their jurisdiction. McDonough claims one of the county cops, Lt. Alex Diaz de Villegas, aggressively patted him down and then warned him not to go on Murguido’s block or else he would be arrested for trespassing.
The incident left him rattled, McDonough says. “On Halloween, I couldn’t go trick-or-treating with my wife and daughters because I was afraid that if Officer Murguido saw me, he would escalate the situation,” he says. “The following day, I went to the emergency care center after not eating or sleeping for four days because I was so upset.”
According to a Nov. 1, 2012 Homestead Police incident report, McDonough’s doctor, Ernesto Rodriguez, called the cops for assistance reference a “psychotic patient on the scene that is paranoid and delusional.” Two officers showed up and detained McDonough until his wife came to pick him up. McDonough claims the cops detained him against his will. “I was cooperative and not a threat to myself or others,” he says.
McDonough also accused Rodriguez of writing a false medical report to make him appear crazy. “The doctor made up many lies including entering false quotes that I never made,” McDonough says. “I went back to have a meeting with the doctor. I took my father-in-law who used to be the head nurse at two psyche wards. We explained to the doctor that the report contained a lot of false statements.”
Rodriguez revised the report removing the alleged false statements, McDonough says. He gave PINAC copies of the original and revised versions. In the latter document, quotes attributed to McDonough have been erased.
After the holidays, McDonough left a message for Homestead Police Det. Antonio Aquino on Jan. 24, 2013, asking to make a formal internal affairs complaint against Murguido, who also went on the offensive. On Feb. 15, 2013, Murguido gave a statement to a county police detective who opened an investigation into McDonough for “corruption through threatening a civil servant.”
At the end of the month, Murguido sought a permanent injunction against McDonough. In the civil court filing, Murguido took several liberties with the truth about what happened the day McDonough confronted him outside his house, pictured below. He falsely claims that McDonough said: “You better stop running stop signs and speeding in the city…I was following you the other day, and I saw you do that.” Murguido also claims the incident took place on Dec. 22, 2012, three months after it actually happened.
In what has become a standard practice among cops going after citizens, Murguido alleged he was in fear of his life.
In March, Aquino contacted McDonough to obtain his statement against Murguido. In an email to Homestead Police Chief Al Rolle, Aquino says that McDonough was uncooperative. “He believes we and others are conspiring against him,” Aquino writes. “I also explained to him that HPD IA investigations are completed impartially.” McDonough says he didn’t take Aquino seriously because the detective took three months to return his phone call. He also declined to give a sworn statement based on his attorney’s advice.
In April, Murguido’s motion for a permanent injunction was dismissed after he failed to appear for a court hearing. However, a month later, Miami-Dade Police arrested McDonough.
He was sitting in his home going through some public records he had just obtained about Murquido that revealed his sordid history when he saw a quick flash of blue and lights through his window. He stepped outside and was greeted by four or five cops who remained on the other side of his fence.
“I asked them how I could help them and they asked me to step outside my fence,” he said.
He asked again but now they were ordering him to step outside. He did and was promptly handcuffed, driven to a station and interrogated before he was placed in a cell. He also kept asking on what charges was he getting arrested and they kept telling him they would tell him later.
Although he had the recording that would prove his innocence, several lawyers he contacted advised he not make it public, telling him he would be charged with criminal wiretapping, which is bad advice considering there is an expectation of privacy provision in Florida’s wiretapping law as there is in all states that have a two-party consent law.
State prosecutors dropped the initial charges down to misdemeanor simple stalking and trespassing. In June of last year, McDonough was allowed to enter a pretrial diversion program to avoid prosecution since he was a first time offender, allowing him to proceed with a lawsuit.
With his case closed, McDonough sought to have Murguido investigated for making false statements against him. In addition to allegedly lying about his confrontation with McDonough, Murguido has a long history of making stuff up to protect himself or hurt others.
When the 55-year-old cop was working for the Hialeah Police Department, he was repeatedly disciplined for behavior unbecoming an officer. In 1998, Alejandro Murguido was suspended from the Hialeah Police Department for 120 hours without pay. He violated a number of department rules, including the very egregious act of making up a false report. Murguido was also found incompetent, negligent, and inefficient in performing his duties. He had a history of bad behavior. He was reprimanded for conduct unbecoming an officer while in court and for issuing parking tickets without legal justification and with improper motives. He was also busted lying several times about his reason for missing court appearances, including a serious domestic violence case.
In a letter explaining why he was upholding Murguido’s 120 day suspension, then Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez wrote: “You continually demonstrate that you are unwilling to comport yourself in a manner befitting a Hialeah Police Officer.”
According to his Homestead Police personnel file, Murguido has been counseled for making inappropriate comments on the police radio, having trouble resolving verbal conflicts and not always being well received by the public.
Yet, McDonough says Murguido’s superiors blew off his complaint. On Feb. 7, he met with Aquino and Homestead Police Chief Al Rolle, but had no luck. The chief arrived an hour-and-a-half late for the meeting and then took a ten minute phone call from his wife, McDonough grouses. “Det. Aquino was rude and hostile,” McDonough says.
On May 22, Aquino closed the internal affairs investigation into Murguido. He wrote that no there was no substantial evidence that would prove Ofc. Murguido violated any law or departmental procedure.
McDonough is preparing his lawsuit against the Miami-Dade and Homestead police departments that lists almost 40 cops as defendants.
McDonough explains his story in more detail in each of the two videos, including one video where he attended a Miami-Dade Police community meeting and demanded answers from a major.
Francisco Alvarado is a Miami-based journalist who has won numerous awards for his investigative stories. In addition to writing about public corruption and scandals, Alvarado opines regularly about the Drug War’s impact on society and pop culture on his site, www.servingdope.com