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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Panel Recommends Termination for Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz

Replace revealed 9/1/2022: In July, Miami Police Division (MPD) prime brass beneficial terminating Capt. Javier Ortiz, following allegations that the controversial captain had his extra time requests accepted by sergeants beneath his command — a purported breach of process.

Six weeks later, Ortiz stays on paid depart, however a disciplinary evaluate board has unanimously voted to rescind the reprimand and throw out the advice for termination.

MPD was supplied with a sworn affidavit from former Chief Artwork Acevedo stating that he approved Ortiz to have his extra time slips accepted by sergeants within the division’s motor unit and that Ortiz didn’t act improperly. Ortiz’s legal professional, Griska Mena, tells New Occasions that witnesses known as to the disciplinary evaluate board on Monday, August 29, corroborated Acevedo’s assertion.

Ortiz now awaits a choice from MPD Chief Manuel Morales as as to whether he might be reinstated.

The unique story continues beneath.

Over the previous two and a half years, Miami Police Division (MPD) Capt. Javier Ortiz has been on the job for an combination complete of eight months. For the opposite 22 months, Ortiz, one of many division’s most controversial officers, has been on suspension for numerous investigations into his conduct, all of the whereas being paid on the general public’s dime.

The erstwhile police union president has been suspended a number of occasions through the years, avoiding termination regardless of allegations of violence and racism, to not point out the many hundreds of {dollars} he is price the town in authorized charges for lawsuits introduced towards him. 

However beneath the administration of Chief Manuel Morales, MPD might lastly be on the verge of firing Ortiz over a pair of alleged infractions which have extra to do with inside coverage than immediately harming the general public.

The primary arises from an incident on August 10 of final 12 months, when Ortiz adopted a car on his motorbike going 100 mph on I-95 and pulled the automobile over on an off-ramp, forcing different drivers to go round them.

“Captain Ortiz positioned himself and the driving force of the offending car in peril by confronting the driving force on a harmful freeway and in the end leading to a bodily confrontation with the driving force,” reads a written reprimand towards Ortiz obtained by New Occasions.

In accordance with the reprimand, MPD’s Inner Affairs unit (IA) didn’t maintain an allegation of improper process towards Ortiz, however a disciplinary evaluate panel of prime brass seemed over the case this month and beneficial he be demoted.

Ortiz’s legal professional, Richard Diaz, says Ortiz was inside his rights to cease the motorist on the exit ramp and says he has submitted a visitors guide from the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration to IA to show it.

“The police division refused to interview any of their Motors Instructors who we’re assured will state the plain,” Diaz says. “Captain Ortiz carried out the visitors cease per his coaching.”

It is Ortiz’s second reprimand, which originates from an administrative incident inside MPD, that has the Disciplinary Assessment Panel recommending the controversial captain be fired.

In accordance with the disciplinary memo, IA was informed final November (a month after Ortiz was suspended for the third time in his profession) that the captain had allegedly labored too many hours. IA exonerated Ortiz of the accusation, however the investigation revealed that he’d purportedly allowed sergeants beneath his command within the motor unit to approve each other’s extra time slips with out first requesting permission from his direct supervisor: then-Assistant Chief Manuel Morales.

A rundown of extra time slips included within the reprimand exhibits Ortiz submitted 100 hours of extra time in July 2021 alone, permitting lower-ranked officers to approve the claims. (After July 28, Ortiz started submitting extra time hours to a police main, above him within the chain of command.)

One of many sergeants who accepted Ortiz’s hours, Sgt. Mario Dell Amico, informed investigators that he suggested Ortiz when he joined the motor unit final 12 months that extra time requests had been all the time stored in-house and didn’t go up the chain.

“In his sworn witness assertion, Chief Manuel Morales said he was Captain Ortiz’s direct supervisor in June and July of 2021,” reads the reprimand. “He said he (Chief Morales) ought to have been listed because the approving supervisor and commanding officer for any extra time slips Captain Ortiz submitted at the moment.”

Below MPD’s departmental rules, extra time is meant to be accepted by a commanding officer who immediately supervised the extra time project, and workers of the identical rank aren’t permitted to approve one another’s extra time.

Auditors in 2020 discovered rampant points with MPD’s extra time and off-duty applications, noting that the applications had been unchecked and ripe for abuse by officers who safe profitable off-duty assignments.

Ortiz’s legal professional contends that the style of extra time approval within the motor unit was signed off on by then-MPD Chief Artwork Acevedo, who was ousted in October. Since taking up, Morales has reversed lots of the adjustments his predecessor made to the division.

The panel initially beneficial that Ortiz be demoted for the alleged fake pas however subsequently elevated the penalty. On the sixth web page of the reprimand (connected on the finish of this text), panel members crossed out “demotion” and changed it with “termination,” adopted by their signatures.

“The Disciplinary Assessment Panel has been in place for a number of months and the members of the board made the change throughout their deliberation assembly as indicated by their initials subsequent to the adjustments,” MPD spokesperson Kenia Fallat explains in response to New Occasions’ questions in regards to the change.

Ortiz stays on paid suspension as a captain, because the reprimand awaits approval by Chief Morales — who some inside the division consider is gunning for Ortiz on the behest of the town fee.

Final month, two IA investigators, Det. Wanda Jean Baptiste and Cmdr. Brandon Lanier, alleged corruption inside Inner Affairs beneath Morales, claiming he was concentrating on Ortiz for termination on orders from Metropolis Commissioner Joe Carollo, who has feuded with Ortiz up to now.

In a press release to New Occasions through electronic mail in June, Morales known as the 2 officers’ accusations “meritless.”

In the meantime, Ortiz and his camp keep his innocence and level out that the saga will proceed to price Miami residents’ tax {dollars} a method or one other.

“Ultimately, the residents of Miami lose. Captain Ortiz must be engaged on defending residents as a substitute of sitting at house,” says Diaz, his legal professional. “That is nothing greater than a witch-hunt and an try to justify paying a captain to take a seat at house for eight months.”

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