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WPTV Special: Riviera Beach - A City in Turmoil

Posted at 11:19 PM, Oct 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-27 07:28:19-04

The question about why Jonathan Evans was suddenly fired as Riviera Beach's city manager on September 20, for cause, but without an explanation, remains unanswered. 

RELATED: More coverage of Riviera Beach

Many in the public say Evans was more than just another city manager. He represented hope that something was going to change in the city and that there would be more transparency. 

Three city council members voted to fire Evans, but they have refused to say why. 

Since then, WPTV showed that Evans investigated council members Lynne Hubbard and Dawn Pardo for using, or planning to use, public money on private property.

Hubbard later admitted that's why she voted to fire Evans. 

Then, WPTV learned of another component. Sources say Police Chief Clarence Williams, who is retiring soon, wants to become the next city manager and make his friend Alex Freeman police chief. 

"I had nothing to do with the firing of Evans," Freeman said on Sept. 27 during a council meeting.

Freeman has been with the Riviera Beach Police Department since 1993. He ran for sheriff and applied to become the chief of police. 

Evans rejected his application, deeming Freeman not qualified. 

During the Sept/ 27 meeting, Freeman's anger at Evans was on full display. 

"I deserve a spot at the table for an interview," Freeman said on Sept. 27. "I earned this. I deserve this. This is my community." 

Evans said he had narrowed down the candidates for the police chief position to five, but a few weeks later he was fired.

"For cause, for misfeasance," Councilman Terence Davis said in his motion to fire Evans on Sept. 20.

Freeman was also at the invitation-only meeting at Hurst Chapel on Sept. 28 with Chief Williams, Hubbard, and Davis. Sources say the group at the meeting discussed ways how to keep Evans out of office.

Freeman never answered questions as to why he was at that meeting. 

Last week, a police report was filed, accusing Freeman of making verbal threats, by leaving this voicemail:

"I am going to respectfully ask you one last time to stop texting me. If you continue to text me, you're going to be-you're going to feel my wrath and I can guarantee you that. I know you think you big and bad with your little motorcycle gang but if you continue to text me, you're going to feel sorry that you're not prepared for and I guarantee that."

Freeman did not answer questions about the voicemail to WPTV.

Hired in 1993, Freeman was suspended in 1998 after a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found Freeman guilty of perjury during official proceedings. He came back to Rivera Beach police after several months of suspension.

In 2006, Freeman got a verbal warning for not following protocol during an arrest. The allegations against Freeman and another officer were: Slamming the suspect to the ground, searching a vehicle illegally, and forcing the girlfriend of the suspect to expose herself to officers.

In 2008, an officer reported Freeman held him against his will in his office and threatened him with disciplinary actions. 

"I am going to be here a long time," Freeman allegedly said. "I will always outrank you."

In 2013, an intern with the police department claimed Freeman made racial remarks about Arabic people.

Freeman then allegedly ended his internship because of his ethnic background. 
The allegations were not sustained. 

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