Two Miami Cops Resign Amid Lawsuit Alleging They Falsely Arrested, Injured Combat Veteran

Last November, Miami resident Mario Javier Cordoba sued the City of Miami and two of its cops, Reynaldo Irias and Yesid Ortiz, for false arrest, battery, and civil rights violations. Cordoba says the two officers chucked him in the back of a cop car simply for trying to record his encounter with police.

That lawsuit remains open, and a jury trial has been set for October 30. But now both Irias and Ortiz have resigned. The two cops quit the force the same day two weeks ago, the Miami Police Department confirmed to New Times.

Marie Demetrius, a staff service aide with the department, told New Times that both cops filed resignation letters Wednesday, May 10. But prior to this story's publication, Demetrius declined to provide those letters to New Times, stating the documents are still "in process" and not yet available for public view.

She did not respond to a follow-up message Monday asking to inspect both officers' internal affairs files. Messages sent directly to the City of Miami's internal affairs unit Wednesday were also not returned.

After this story was published, however, the City of Miami provided both cops' resignation letters — and both messages were also identical.

"I am resigning for personal reasons and believe that this is the best option for me and my family," the letters both read.

click to enlarge VIA CITY DOCUMENTS
via city documents
Cordoba says he was standing in front of his apartment in the 500 block of SW Seventh Street around 7 p.m. July 22, 2015. He wasn't doing much, according to his lawsuit, just hanging outside with his phone in his hand, while a fruit vendor stood across the street. Cordoba says a cop car then pulled up and one of the two cops got out to question the vendor. A second police unit arrived up to back up the first.

Cordoba, a 42-year-old former Marine, says he hadn't been doing anything to disrupt the cops as they spoke to the fruit salesman. But he claims the officers suddenly accused him of recording them as they worked (which is perfectly legal in Florida).

That's when Cordoba actually did begin recording their interaction on his phone, he says.

"What is the issue with the recording?" he claims one of the officers asked. Cordoba says he declined to respond, citing the Fifth Amendment, and then one of the cops simply yanked the phone out of his hand.

"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 says he received a lumbar spinal fusion in 2013 due to injuries he sustained while serving in the Gulf War.

The cops then threw him in the back of a car and charged him with resisting an officer without violence. The Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office dropped its case against him October 7, 2015. (Cordoba was convicted of disorderly conduct and obstructing a police officer in 1994, when he was  20 years old.)

On December 2, 2016, the City of Miami, Irias, and Ortiz filed a motion answering Cordoba's complaint. All three parties denied every one of his allegations.

This story has been updated to add information from the two officers' resignation letters, which were provided to New Times after this story was published.