Before Mario Menegazzo was hired in November 2012, the Miami Police Department was warned that he had previously been found psychologically unfit for a job in law enforcement.
The revelation comes from a psychological evaluation obtained by New Times yesterday in a public records request. Menegazzo, now a City of Miami police sergeant, came under fire last month after handcuffing a University of Miami doctor outside his home in Flagami.
In a summary of the March 2012 psychological evaluation, Law Enforcement Psychological and Counseling Associates, Inc. noted that Menegazzo had been previously evaluated by the organization and was rated “unacceptable/unsuitable.”
Although the full psychological evaluation was not provided by MPD, the summary states that Menegazzo was found to have a mild to moderate “lack of flexibility,” which could mean that he was “rigid; slow to adjust, adapt, or socially connect with others; withdrawn; introverted; socially avoidant; etc.”
The evaluator found that Menegazzo “superficially presented as polite and cooperative” but noted that if he was hired, he should be observed closely during training to watch for any “challenging, stubborn, or argumentative behavior.”
Ultimately, the evaluators labeled him “suitable” in the March 2012 examination.
“The applicant’s current evaluation results show improvement, nevertheless, it is difficult to assess whether a ‘practice effect’ and/or feedback could have assisted the applicant,” the evaluation summary reads. “If considered for final hire, it is anticipated that the noted deficit will show continued improvement through field training and probationary instruction.”
New Times previously reported that Menegazzo has racked up multiple citizens complaints and use-of-force incidents during his eight-year tenure on the force. Several of those complaints involve the sergeant detaining or using force on civilians after they talked back to him.
In addition to the psychological evaluation, New Times obtained copies of Menegazzo’s initial application and background check.
The application file shows Menegazzo has two relatives who have worked for the City of Miami: his father-in-law, Armando Aguilar Sr., and his brother-in-law, Armando Aguilar Jr.
Aguilar Sr. was president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police union at the time Menegazzo applied for a job with MPD. Aguilar Jr. is the department’s current assistant police chief.
Menegazzo’s background check, meanwhile, shows that he took two polygraph tests prior to being hired by MPD.
The result of the first test in April 2012 was marked as “inconclusive.” During the second test in May 2012, the file notes there was “deception found,” although the area of concern was redacted in the records provided to New Times. (The American Psychological Association has discouraged employers from screening applicants using polygraphs, which many researchers have found to be unreliable.)
Despite those findings, neighbors interviewed as part of the background check said Menegazzo was an excellent neighbor. He was hired in November 2012.
To date, MPD has not released any record of the disciplinary action taken against Menegazzo for the improper procedure and discourtesy exhibited in the April incident with Henderson. The sergeant was found in violation of departmental policy for not wearing a mask or gloves despite the pandemic, for yelling and pointing in Henderson’s face, and for not calling in his stop to police dispatch.
Reached by New Times yesterday, Menegazzo declined to comment.
“You’re working on another article? Wow, you’re keeping busy, bro,” the sergeant said. “No comment, thank you.”