Police

Miami Police Union Chief: Alton Sterling Shooting Was "More Than Justified"

Javier Ortiz, Miami's outspoken police union chief, habitually lets his opinions fly whenever law enforcement issues make national headlines. Famously, he called for a boycott of Beyoncé's latest concert in Miami after the artist's Black Panther-referencing Super Bowl performance earlier this year. He also called Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot by Cleveland Police for holding a toy gun in the street, a "thug." Clearly, he does not fear outrage.

Earlier this week, Ortiz shared his thoughts about the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge — a gruesome killing caught on camera that began a week of national protests and has led into today's funeral ceremony, where a number of black leaders have gathered to decry police violence. 

But Miami's own police union chief believes the shooting was "more than justified."

"Many people are afraid to say that the police officers involved in the Stirling (sic) shooting were MORE THAN JUSTIFIED," Ortiz wrote. "He was armed with a gun (which this felonious child molester wasn't supposed to have). Where was BLM [Black Lives Matter] when he was molesting a child? The FOP stands with these officers!"

But Horacio Stuart Aguirre, president of Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel, which investigates complaints against Miami Police officers, says Ortiz's opinions in this case are inappropriate.

"I respect the lieutenant’s thinking, but it’s absolutely warped thinking," he says. "In his mind, any time a cop fires a gun, it's justified."
Ortiz has yet to respond to New Times' phone calls and texts requesting comment.

Ortiz, who heads Lodge 20 of the Fraternal Order of Police, has become well known for making headlines. In 2015, he spread rumors that Assistant Chief of Police Anita Najiy was Muslim and that her apparent faith caused her to refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He's also being sued for an alleged wrongful arrest on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Aguirre says teaching police officers that defending the cops in the Sterling shooting is the "sort of thing that creates riots."

"This is justifying to his membership of the FOP that they can pin somebody on the ground, put a gun to someone's chest, and shoot him point-blank," Aguirre says. "That's absolutely wrong."
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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.