Miami Could Pay $79,000 to Veteran Who Says Cops Falsely Arrested, Injured Him

via city documents
The case of former City of Miami Police Officers Reynaldo Irias and Yesid Ortiz remains strange: Both are being sued for allegedly falsely arresting and injuring an ex-Marine because the veteran tried to record the two cops harassing him. In a move that made matters much more interesting, both officers also resigned earlier this year, on the same day, by turning in identical resignation letters.

But a lawyer for the officers and a high-level source within the Miami Police Department tell New Times that the cops' resignations were not related to their ongoing lawsuit and that they resigned over something else. At the moment, it's unclear what's going on inside MPD when it comes to these two former officers.

What's clear, however, is this: Both cops' alleged misconduct is about to cost City of Miami taxpayers nearly $80,000, provided the city commission approves a legal settlement at its next meeting July 13, according to the commission's latest agenda.

In November, Miami resident Mario Javier Cordoba sued Irias, Ortiz, and the city in federal court on charges of false arrest. According to his original legal complaint, Cordoba, who is 42, was standing by himself on the 500 block of SW Seventh Street around 7 p.m. July 22, 2015, when Irias and Ortiz rolled up and began talking to a fruit vendor across the street. He wasn't recording the officers, but the suit says the two cops wheeled around, confronted Cordoba, and accused him of filming them (which is legal).

Confused by the cops' tone, Cordoba then took out his phone and began to shoot video because the interaction was troubling him, the suit says. It allegedly didn't make the officers happy.

"What is the issue with the recording?" the suit says one of the officers asked. Cordoba says he declined to respond, citing the Fifth Amendment. At this, he claims, one of the cops ripped the phone out of his hand.

In addition, the suit claims the officers then manhandled Coroba, yanked his arms behind his back, and cuffed him, all for legally recording the interaction. Cordoba says he suffered an injury while serving in the Marines during the Gulf War; in 2013, he underwent spinal fusion surgery, and the suit claims the cops aggravated his wound.

"Without any warning to Mr. Cordoba, one of the officers took hold of Mr. Cordoba’s right arm while the other officer grabbed his left arm," the suit says. "They forced Mr. Cordoba around and pulled his arms behind his back to handcuff him. The force used by Defendants Irias and Ortiz to turn Mr. Cordoba around caused Mr. Cordoba to twist his back, resulting in severe pain."

Cordoba was eventually charged with resisting without violence, but prosecutors later dropped the case.

In a response to Cordoba's legal complaint, the city and both cops denied each of Coroba's claims — but now the city is slated to hand the alleged victim a fat $79,000 check to drop the case. The city still doesn't admit any wrongdoing.

Irias' and Ortiz's resignations have complicated the case. A lawyer for both officers, former Miami cop John Cunill, tells New Times via phone that both were forced to resign May 10, but claimed he "did not know why" the department allegedly pushed the cops to step down.

"I am resigning for personal reasons and believe that this is the best option for me and my family," the identical letters both read.
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via city documents
MPD hasn't explained what happened either: When New Times requested both officers' internal affairs files, a department records officer referred us directly to internal affairs, which so far has ignored the request for documents.

So now it seems City of Miami taxpayers are out almost $80,000, two cops, and a proper explanation as to what's going on here.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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