Miami police sergeant suspended after video shows him throwing sacred Jewish text

(JTA) – A Miami police sergeant was suspended after a video was broadcast showing him throwing a wooden box engraved with a Star of David and a copy of the Tanach in the back of a pickup truck calling them crap.

“Taking out the trash, dawg,” Sgt. Roberto Destephan, a 13-year veteran of the force, says on the video after turning the camera on his face. Destephan also serves as vice-president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police.

The video was first aired by WPLG Local 10.

“The actions of this employee were found to be inconsistent with the mission and values of our department,” Chief Jorge R. Colina said in a statement. “I would like to reassure our citizens of all faiths that we stand in solidarity with them.”

“When you look at the video, what it appears is to be anti-Semitic speech and a desecration of the Torah,” Colina also said.

The department has opened an internal affairs investigation into the video.

The Miami Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement that that the video was “heavily edited,” and called it a form of “political blackmail.” Destephan recently received an email threatening to make the video public unless he did not run for reelection and stepped down from his FOP position.

The statement said that the video was taken “years ago” when the FOP union office was “full of mold and termites.” Items in the office were “discarded for health reasons.” The statement added that “the video that has been released has been edited and doesn’t capture the full and entire conversation.”

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