Looking at an Instagram collage that featured Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz smiling for a selfie above a photo of a handcuffed woman on the ground, Civilian Investigative Panel member Courtney Omega had to double-check his rank.
“This is a captain?” she said during a Tuesday meeting of the independent group. “It looked very much like rookie behavior, so to speak.”
The independent police oversight board voted to sustain two allegations of improper procedure against Ortiz over the photos, which were sent anonymously along with a complaint that said posts in the locked account regularly mock black arrestees.
Omega and several other members of the panel found the photos disturbing enough that they wanted to press for decisive action from the police department.
“I don’t know what action the chief can take, but I hope that we can recommend that he take the strongest action possible,” board member Doug Mayer said. “I think we need to set an example so that we don’t allow this to occur again and again and again.”
That seems unlikely. Ortiz, a longtime leader of the police union, has for years ascended the ranks despite his long list of use-of-force complaints, allegations of improperly written reports, and outrageous public statements. He’s even bragged online about his internal affairs records.
Last year he was promoted to captain despite the fact he’d been pulled off street duty months earlier after doxxing and harassing a woman who had pulled over a speeding cop. Ortiz didn’t immediately respond to New Times' request for comment on the latest CIP findings.
CIP members, who can only recommend reprimands to the police department, on Tuesday voted to uphold one improper procedure allegation for the arrestee photo and a second for another Instagram image in which Ortiz was wearing a uniform embroidered with someone else’s name.
The anonymous tipster accused him of making the switch to avoid getting more complaints. But CIP member William Scarola, who retired from the police force in 2016 and served alongside Ortiz as union treasurer, offers another explanation.
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“The name-tag issue was OK’ed by the [previous] chief years ago,” he says. “There was a death threat.”
Ortiz, for his part, previously told New Times there had been a delay in shirt orders at the police department. He laughed off allegations of something more sinister.
“Thanks to the Miami New Times, I don’t really need a name tag anyway because everyone knows me!” he texted. “Must be a slow news day!”
He added, “I’m proud to be Ortiz, trust me.”