Lawsuits

State Attorney Drops Steakhouse Slap Case Against CJ Gimenez

Footage captured on the city's CCTV footage  shows a man identified as Miami police detective Stanley Paul-Noel (bald) and Carlos "CJ" Gimenez tussling outside Morton's the Steakhouse in Coral Gables on February 9, 2022.
Footage captured on the city's CCTV footage shows a man identified as Miami police detective Stanley Paul-Noel (bald) and Carlos "CJ" Gimenez tussling outside Morton's the Steakhouse in Coral Gables on February 9, 2022. Screenshot via Coral Gables Television/YouTube
The Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office has dropped its simple battery case against Carlos "CJ" Gimenez.

Gimenez, the son of U.S. Rep. Carlos A. Giménez, was arrested February 9 at a Coral Gables steakhouse after allegedly striking City of Miami Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, who was sitting at a table outside the restaurant.

This latest development comes less than two weeks after New Times reported on the existence of a Coral Gables Police Department (CGPD) video that showed a City of Miami Police Department (MPD) officer attempting to take Gimenez into custody, even though Coral Gables already held Gimenez.

After the alleged slap outside Morton's steakhouse, Gimenez exchanged words with Diaz de la Portilla's sergeant at arms, MPD detective Stanley Paul-Noel. Video from outside the restaurant showed the encounter ending with Paul-Noel throwing Gimenez to the ground. CGPD officers soon arrived on the scene, arrested Gimenez, and took him to police headquarters.

CGPD public information officer Kelly Denham confirmed that footage captured at police headquarters showed an MPD officer entering Gimenez's cell, handcuffing him, and walking him out, only to return Gimenez to his cell after a brief phone conversation.

"We appreciate the state attorney’s acknowledgment of what we suggested from day one: that this matter should not be pursued," Michael Band, Gimenez's attorney, tells New Times. "Among the twists and turns of this tortured journey, MPD sought to take custody of Gimenez from CGPD — to what end I could only hazard a guess. That didn't happen because of [CGPD] Chief [Ed] Hudak’s intervention and I appreciate that."

The strange circumstances around the attempted extradition, along with Gimenez's overnight stint at the Turner Guilford Knight detention center (TGK), raised questions about how the case was handled.

"In the vast majority of these cases, the offender would be issued a notice to appear before a judge, but my client spent 18 hours in custody at TGK," Band explains. "It’s unfortunate that perhaps what was exhibited in my opinion is that political figures in the city might hold some sway in the criminal justice system, which is troubling."

Reached by New Times via text on Tuesday, Diaz de la Portilla responded, "You're a joke." Pressed to respond in reference to the allegations that politics played a role in Gimenez's arrest, the commissioner doubled down. "You are still a joke and not a real journalist. Everyone knows that. I only respond to credible people," he texted.

"As the Victim of an unprovoked criminal attack in broad daylight, I am disturbed that the State Attorney has run away from her responsibility to protect crime victims."

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Hours later, the commissioner, who'd described the slap as "cowardly" and "more like a flick of his wrist" on the day of the incident, sent a more detailed comment.

"As the Victim of an unprovoked criminal attack in broad daylight, I am disturbed that the State Attorney has run away from her responsibility to protect crime victims. Obviously, she bowed to the demands of a high-ranking public official to protect daddy's little boy," de la Portilla wrote. "This result is all too common in a politicized criminal court system in which pay-to-play takes a front seat, while justice and protection of the innocent is all but forgotten. This is a troubling indication of the State Attorney's priorities. We must demand more accountability from our too-timid prosecutor."

Meanwhile, Detective Stanley Paul Noel, Diaz de la Portilla's sergeant at arms, remains under investigation by MPD's Internal Affairs unit following a civilian complaint that Diaz de la Portilla and Paul-Noel conspired to "kidnap" Gimenez from Coral Gables.

New Times has requested a closeout memo from the state attorney's office related to Gimenez's case and will update this story when we receive a copy.
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Joshua Ceballos is staff writer for Miami New Times. He is a Florida International University alum and a born-and-bred Miami boy.
Contact: Joshua Ceballos