Five Miami-Area Cops Who Kept Their Jobs After Misconduct Allegations

Both Ed Lugo and Javier Ortiz have kept their jobs with the Miami Police Department.
Both Ed Lugo and Javier Ortiz have kept their jobs with the Miami Police Department. Screenshot via Twitter
click to enlarge Both Ed Lugo and Javier Ortiz have kept their jobs with the Miami Police Department. - SCREENSHOT VIA TWITTER
Both Ed Lugo and Javier Ortiz have kept their jobs with the Miami Police Department.
Screenshot via Twitter
New Times this week reported that, even though Hialeah Police Officer Jessie Menocal Jr. was accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl while he was on duty in 2015, he was removed from street patrols only this year. Moreover, he's still employed despite the fact his accuser has not wavered in stating Menocal drove her against her will to a Hialeah Police station and forced her to undress while he touched himself. She's now suing him and the city in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

Unfortunately, Miami-area cops often tend to keep their jobs after being accused of — or blatantly caught doing — some heinous stuff. If you'd like to ruin your Sunday, feel free to read this recap of some of the more insane cases.

1. Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz narrowly kept his job even after a woman filed a restraining order against him because he'd been harassing her:
Miami Police Lt. Javier Ortiz, the outspoken head of the city's cop union, has been temporarily reassigned to desk duty and stripped of his gun, New Times has confirmed. The move came after a judge granted a restraining order to a woman Ortiz allegedly harassed and doxxed online.

Robert Buschel, a Fraternal Order of Police attorney, says Ortiz will fight the restraining order.

"[The woman's] latest allegation... is false," Buschel says. "There will be at least one high-ranking police official who will testify on the record that he acted as a gentleman at all times."

Ortiz, who has repeatedly made national news by defending police shootings and criticizing celebrities such as Beyoncé, landed in hot water after a Tuesday meeting of the Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an independent group that considers complaints against Miami Police officers.

The board heard from Claudia Castillo, a Miami woman who said she was was harassed and doxxed on Facebook by Ortiz last February after she reported a speeding cop in 2016. Ortiz posted her personal cell phone number and photos and encouraged his followers to call and disparage her. This past Tuesday, the CIP reprimanded Ortiz and said he'd broken department policy by posting her personal information.

2. Adrian Rodriguez for six years avoided getting canned from Miami PD despite his alleged ties to a murder.
Via the Miami Herald:
Adrian Rodriguez, a Miami cop who has spent the past six years thwarting police department attempts to fire him after he was implicated in a murder, lost a major legal battle Wednesday when a state appeals court ruled the department had the power to toss him off the force for refusing to submit to a drug test.

Implicated in the shooting death of a former U.S. Marine during a robbery at a mobile phone store where he worked almost a decade ago, Rodriguez had successfully fought off a string of arbitration and court proceedings since his initial firing in 2016 when he clammed up after detectives tried to interview him.

On Wednesday, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled that a lower court was correct when it determined the city had the right to fire Rodriguez last August after he refused to submit a urinalysis. Rodriguez had asked that the city of Miami be found in contempt for violating his arbitration agreement which reinstated him after his initial firing. The city of Miami argued it couldn’t reinstate the officer without a drug test because his training requirements had lapsed in 2017 after he’d been separated from the department for more than six months.

Simply, after six years of being unable to fire the officer for his alleged involvement in a murder, Miami was finally told it had the right to remove Rodriguez because he refused to pee into a cup.

“The judge made the right decision,” said Miami Deputy Police Chief Ron Papier. “He was a city of Miami police officer who refused to cooperate on a homicide investigation.”

3. Ed Lugo, a friend of Ortiz's, somehow ducked being fired after getting caught in an FBI sting:
In 2009, internal affairs tried to fire Lugo after he was found to have violated several departmental policies. Lugo was told by an FBI informant that he planned to traffic stolen goods, and Lugo failed to report the plan. Another cop involved, Geovani Nuñez, went to prison for ten years. During the investigation, Ortiz himself helped represent Lugo in the IA investigation:

"A confidential informant working with the (F.B.I.) provided information, that Officer Nunez was organizing an escort for purportedly stolen cargo to be shipped out of the state of Florida. Officer Nunez attempted to recruit Officer Lugo to escort stolen property. Officer Lugo did not participate after he was made aware the escorted truck would contain purportedly stolen property. On May 2, 2008, Officer Lugo was present in a vehicle when the details of the escort of stolen property were discussed between Officer Nunez and the informant, who were attempting to recruit Officer Lugo. Officer Lugo failed to report this meeting nor did he notify anyone of possible criminal activity involving Officer Nunez."

4. MPD cop Luis Verne remained on the force after being accused of a raft of alcohol-related incidents, including choking a man at a Miller's Ale House after drinking a bunch of Fireball:
Comedian and TV star Hannibal Buress walked out of a Wynwood bar during Art Basel 2017, stepped right up to Miami Police Officer Luis Verne, and shouted "This cop is stupid as fuck" right into Verne's body camera. Though certainly confrontational, the incident was both legal and hilarious. Verne disagreed and arrested Buress on public intoxication charges that Buress called nonsense, and which prosecutors later dropped.

But it turns out that before the Buress incident, Verne had gotten into some alcohol-related trouble of his own. Miami PD's internal affairs bureau found that Verne was at a Miller's Ale House with two other off-duty cops drinking Fireball whiskey before Verne choked a patron and ran away before the cops arrived.

In fact, according to the city's Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), Verne has now repeatedly been accused of off-duty incidents "where allegations were made that he was under the influence of alcohol and had anger issues." In one January 2018 incident, an off-duty Verne allegedly rammed a Jeep into a motorist, chased down their car, whipped out a police badge, and yelled, "You don't know who you are fucking with. If you leave now, I'll forget this happened."

5. Records show that Alejandro Giraldo, the Miami-Dade County cop filmed brutalizing Dyma Loving, is still on the county's payroll, although he has been criminally charged over the incident:
Civil rights activists have been begging Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for weeks to arrest county police officer Alejandro Giraldo, who was filmed brutally arresting Dyma Loving, a woman who was simply trying to report that a man had threatened to murder her with a shotgun.

Today, Rundle's office finally announced the state is taking action. Prosecutors have charged Giraldo with one count of misdemeanor battery and felony official misconduct. Bond has been set at $5,500.

"After taking the sworn statements of Ms. Dyma Loving, Ms. Adrianna Green, all the other available witnesses, and reviewing all the known video evidence, we believe that there is sufficient evidence to charge a violation of Florida’s criminal statutes," Rundle's office said this afternoon in a media release.

Loving's case is one of the more blatant instances of police misconduct to emerge in quite some time. Around 10 a.m. March 5, the 26-year-old Loving and her friend Adrianna Green were walking around their South Miami-Dade neighborhood when, they say, a 50-year-old neighbor, Frank Tumm, whipped out a shotgun and threatened to shoot Loving's "burnt black ass face" off of her body. The women say Tumm pointed the shotgun at them.

Naturally, Loving called the cops to report the incident. But when MDPD officers arrived, Giraldo treated Loving like the aggressor rather than the victim. Giraldo — a field-training officer who mentored other cops — implied Loving should be committed to a mental institution before saying she "needed to be corrected, if anything."

It was all caught on video that confirmed Loving at no point acted violently toward the officer. But without warning, Giraldo grabbed Loving by the wrist and forced her to the ground.
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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.