HOMESTEAD – An off-duty rookie police officer who allegedly pointed her department-issued gun at her boyfriend during an argument has been arrested.
“She [Jenna Maldonado] has turned herself in to the police,” Det. Aida M. Fina-Milian, a Miami-Dade Police spokesperson, said in an email sent to the South Florida Times on Tuesday.
According to the arrest affidavit, Maldonado has been charged with one count of aggravated assault with a firearm, a felony. The charge carries a three-year minimum mandatory sentence, according to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
Maldonado was in jail on $5,000 bond on Tuesday, according to the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.
The affidavit states that Maldonado threatened Steven Encarnacion, who is her boyfriend and the father of one of her children, with the gun several times.
Here’s what happened, according to the police report:
Maldonado and Encarnacion lived together as a family for roughly the last six years. On Feb. 7 at about 10:30 p.m., Encarnacion was at a Super Bowl party hosted by a friend in the unincorporated Redlands area of Miami-Dade County.
Maldonado called Encarnacion, apparently upset that he had not returned home yet to take care of the children so that she could go out with her friends. A short time later, she called Encarnacion again and said she was on her way to the party, and that she had her gun in her lap, according to the police report.
Encarnacion asked another man to drive him home to avoid any further problems at the party. But as Encarnacion and the other man were leaving, Maldonado pulled up next to the vehicle in which the men were traveling and pointed a gun at Encarnacion, according to the arrest affidavit. The other man backed up his vehicle and pulled over to the side of the house.
That’s when Maldonado walked toward them, pointing her gun at Encarnacion, according to the police report. She then pushed his face as she yelled at him that she wanted him out of the house. Encarnacion reached for the gun twice and let it go. He then walked to the back of the house as she followed him.
As Encarnacion walked away, Maldonado was still pointing her gun at him, yelling, “We’ll see who’s the duck now,’’ the arrest report states.
The report also states that Encarnacion tried several times to leave the party to avoid the confrontation, by walking away. But Maldonado, with gun drawn, followed. At one point, Encarnacion even tried to enlist the help of other party goers to keep the situation from escalating.
“If I have friends here,” he said, according to the report, “please tell her to leave.”
After exchanging words with two other people at the party, she left.
Maldonado “freely and voluntarily surrendered’’ to police, the report states.
Maldonado, 28, is a reserve officer with the Homestead Police Department. Homestead police suspended Maldonado on Feb. 10, according to internal documents obtained by the South Florida Times.
The Homestead police internal affairs division also forwarded the information to Miami-Dade Police because the alleged incident happened in Miami-Dade’s jurisdiction. Miami-Dade police began the criminal investigation, which led to Maldonado’s arrest.
Sources say Maldonado was given a deadline of 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22 to turn herself in or face arrest. That deadline passed, but she did turn herself in to Miami-Dade Police later on Monday night.
“She turned herself into the police yesterday, February 22, 2010, at approximately 8:30 p.m. at TGK [Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center],” Fina-Milian said.
Maldonado is the daughter of former Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell, who was defeated in the 2009 elections.
Efforts to reach Maldonado through the Police Department and her Facebook page have been unsuccessful. Her mother has not responded to emails seeking comment.
Maldonado was hired into the city’s Reserve Police Officer Program on Nov. 18, 2009. The program pays a $1 annual salary, and officers work part-time hours to obtain experience. Reserve officers are also allowed to work off-duty details for private companies, which pay them through the police union.
Maldonado is currently serving a 1-year probationary period in the Homestead Police Department, and she can be fired at any time with or without cause. Acting City Manager Sergio Purrinos has said that the city would take final action after the criminal investigation is completed.
Though sources say over a dozen people reportedly witnessed the incident, Miami-Dade Police, who patrol the area, were never called. The next day, the boyfriend contacted Maldonado’s employer, the Homestead Police Department, and reported the incident.
Pictured above is Homestead police officer Jenna Maldonado.