North Miami Beach Police Employees Fired Over Santeria Curse On City Manager UPDATE

Categories: Crime
North Miami Beach has fired two police department employees after they allegedly were caught in the office trying to cast a Santeria curse on the city manager shortly before mass layoffs were planned. Veteran officer Elizabeth Torres and office manager Yvonne Rodriguez were canned last week over the ceremony, says Mark Perkins, a spokesman for the city.

"There was some kind of ritual they were planning inside the city offices," Perkins tells Riptide. "They were caught in the planning stages."

Update: Torres and Rodriguez were caught plotting with a janitor to spread birdseed around the city manager's office, a police report says, in accordance with a Santeria ritual aimed at making an enemy "leave you alone."

Torres admitted to investigators that, with Rodriguez help, she had approached a janitor named Esther Villanueva on Aug. 29 to ask if she'd help spread birdseed around City Manager Lyndon Bonner's office.

The cop had been raised in a family that practices Santeria and she said the ritual wasn't meant to harm Bonner, but rather to help the police department, which faced layoffs in coming weeks.

"If you take supposedly birdseed and you put it around the outside of the door of a person who is doing bad things to you, that it will make them leave you alone," she told investigators.  

Torres, who's been a NMB cop since 1987, said the ritual was "religious" or "superstitious" in nature and that she didn't see any harm in giving it a try.

"In a joking tone, (Rodriguez and I) discussed ... 'I wonder what would happen if birdseed were put outside the city manager's door, if he would, you know, leave the police department alone?'" Torres told investigators.

Villanueva, though, balked at the idea and told her boss, Paulette Murphy about the proposal. Murphy went to her superiors, who initiated an internal investigation. After interviewing Torres and Rodriguez, the city fired both.

Torres was fired for violation of department rules, while Rodriguez, who'd worked in the office since 1996, was found guilty of similar violations in addition to "conduct unbecoming" and making false statements.

The pair can appeal their termination, and the case is sure to raise plenty of questions about freedom of religion.

Local activists like Ernesto Pichardo have won numerous court battles to afford Santeria adherents the same First Amendment protections as other believers.

It's worth asking hypothetically: Would the city have canned two employees if they were caught praying together in the hallway outside the city manager's office?

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14 comments
Cesarrivas
Cesarrivas

What is the city manager scared about Its only bird seed"LOL" This only happens in Florida in California they would of been looking for a lost bird!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Akile
Akile

A good analogy is if they were caught planning to pray for the same thing would they have been fired.  I think not.  But note it is not over yet.  In New York, a City attorney trying to prevent Santeria was driven to ask the santeros "Please leave me alone.  I've lost my car, and things are happening to me since I started the leagal process against Santeria.  By the way it has nothing to do with what you believe.

glass slipper
glass slipper

No wonder Miami is such a shithole, the majority of the population there believes in this type of stupid shit and instead of SOLVING PROBLEMS they pray to the booga booga man and perform idiotic rituals.

Marlins suck and so do their new uniforms, and Billy the Marlin looks like a gay cabellaro!

David Sosa
David Sosa

unconstitutional behavior as usual I hope this gets fought big time, gets media attention, and becomes another big Supreme Court ruling so that changes can be made. They didnt even do it and got fired for it, in a day and age where there are issues finding jobs.. The question at the end of this is article is pertinent.

Tom
Tom

They were on the clock .they dont get paid to spread bird seed .next they will want to kill a chicken or a goat at work.I think u shouldn't kill animals unless u need to eat.

Esubi21
Esubi21

PEOPLE TAKE THINGS OUT OF CONTEXT AND THEY NEED TO FIGHT THIS UNLAWFULL TERMINATION, THE POLICE UNION SHOULD STAND BEHIND THE WORKERS. THEY WOULD NOT KNOW WHO IN THEIR POLICE OFFICERS ARE IN THE TRADITION.

Impressed
Impressed

You should change your hypothetical to the following:

Would the city have canned two employees if they were caught planning to pray together in the hallway outside the city manager's office?

Jules Winnfield
Jules Winnfield

So they were fired for planning to litter the city managers chair with birdseed? Next time someone spills water on the floor or drops bread crumbs they should be fired too, no?

Lucifer
Lucifer

Should have went with the good ole' Satanic Curse :)

Toque
Toque

LOL!! I guess the curse didn't work.

Badtastic
Badtastic

If prayer meant spreading Jesus crackers around someones office, they might be.

Ssdawdawrfewtg
Ssdawdawrfewtg

 yeah, I beat you're bastion of rationality and that you live like a rockstar. Just wait and see what happens to city manager in few months.

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