Miami Gardens Sgt. Javier Romaguera's credibility has been called into question since at least
But stunningly, Romaguera continued to fail upward. The police department moved the officer into its professional compliance unit — where he was responsible for investigating crooked colleagues — and promoted him to sergeant in 2016. He was then transferred to oversee road patrols across the city.
He was on duty working that job when a woman says Romaguera kidnapped her, took her to a hotel room, and touched her breasts against her will, according to a new federal lawsuit. The woman, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, is asking for damages for pain and suffering and continual medical expenses.
"Psychologically, this has had a great impact on her," says her attorney, Yechezkel Rodal. "Hopefully, with enough time and treatment, she'll be able to better deal with it."
Romaguera has not yet responded to the lawsuit. A Miami Gardens spokeswoman said the city does not comment on pending litigation; the police department did not respond to New Times' requests for comment.
The woman's horrifying claims were first covered by WPLG's investigative reporter Bob Norman and were backed up by surveillance footage from the hotel, which showed the officer checking her into a room while he was in uniform.
According to police records, Romaguera responded to a call about a suicidal woman running in traffic July 11, 2016. Police attempted to commit the 23-year-old for mental-health treatment under the Baker Act but ultimately determined she did not meet the criteria. Romaguera volunteered to drive her back to her home in Miramar, something the suit says was "in violation of several MGPD policies and procedures."
But instead of taking the woman home, surveillance footage later revealed, Romaguera took her to the Stadium Hotel, where he used his personal credit card to pay for a room for two nights. Video from the hotel shows the sergeant leading the woman into the elevator and down the hallway into a room.
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Once they were in the room, Romaguera told her she was beautiful and tried to kiss her, the woman claims. The lawsuit says the officer fondled her breasts while she screamed for him to stop.
According to the woman, Romaguera instructed her to stay in bed until he returned the next day. Surveillance footage shows him exiting the room at 1:33 a.m., about ten minutes after entering. The woman remained in the room without food or medication for more than 20 hours. During that time, she was able to call a friend who eventually helped her file a complaint against the police department.
Yet despite the video footage, Rodal says Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has declined to press charges against the officer.
"The evidence is there," Rodal says. "I thought that she should have prosecuted it."