This past January, Claudia Castillo pulled over a speeding Miami-Dade cop in a video that went viral. The Miami Police's union chief, Lt. Javier Ortiz, responded by posting Castillo's Facebook photos and phone number and urging his social media followers to call her. Castillo received hundreds of threatening phone calls and Facebook messages, and Facebook itself removed the posts for being abusive.
Somehow it took more than ten months for the Miami Police Department to investigate Castillo's complaint against Ortiz for doxxing her. On Thursday, the department wrapped up its investigation with an unsurprising conclusion: Ortiz would not be fired, demoted, or even suspended even though internal affairs found he'd broken department policy.
Castillo tells New Times she doesn't expect she'll ever get an apology from the senior cop.
"Have you met Javier Ortiz?" she says. "I don't think he would even be capable of thinking he did anything wrong."
That was an accurate prediction.
"No regrets," Ortiz tells New Times in a longer statement sent via text message.
The citizen's traffic stop happened January 29 when Castillo pulled Miami-Dade Police Officer Daniel Fonticella over on the Dolphin Expressway. Videos of her chastising the officer for driving above the speed limit have garnered more than 2.1 million views.
The stunt sent Ortiz into a tizzy. In a February 2 post on Facebook, he found a picture of Castillo holding a canned drink on a boat and posted that his followers should "call Claudia Castillo at her cell... and let her know drinking and driving on a boat
Castillo told internal investigators that the drink was a Pepsi and that she thought Ortiz was trying to imply she had been drinking a beer.
Ortiz posted at least seven other times about Castillo on Facebook and Twitter using photos he found of her on the internet, according to internal affairs investigators. When Facebook removed one of the posts after filmmaker Billy Corben reported it as harassing, Ortiz simply reposted it. (Facebook later took it down
Internal investigators agreed with Castillo that Ortiz broke the rules. Investigators substantiated complaints of improper procedure and discourtesy against Ortiz, at one point finding him in violation of rules that are "grounds for dismissal, suspension, and demotion."
But IA's final report indicates Ortiz received only a reprimand. A Miami Police spokesperson declined to discuss the finding.
Ortiz says he plans to appeal the reprimand as a violation of his First Amendment rights.
"This woman is a danger to my members and law enforcement as a whole... She's an officer safety risk pulling over a vehicle on the side of I-95," he says in a text message.
Castillo, for her part, calls Ortiz — who has made national headlines with his outspoken approach — "a crooked, dirty cop" and "a bad example of what a good officer can be." She believes the police department could have made the best of the situation by showing the community that it takes complaints like hers seriously, and she's disappointed that it chose not to.
"We're all just bending over and taking it by accepting that this is the day-to-day activity of the thin blue line, that they can do whatever they want and they're above the law," Castillo says. "I'm not a perfect person obviously, but I'm not the one sworn to uphold the law."
Here's Ortiz's full statement on the investigation:
This woman is a danger to my members and law enforcement as a whole. No regrets. She's an officer safety risk pulling over a vehicle on the side of I-95. I'm in the process of appealing my write up as a violation of my First Amendment rights as well as other rights. My attorneys have plenty of time to file and will do so at the proper time.
Social media policies are being struck down by courts (see the linked article). Castillo has First Amendment rights which as a law enforcement officer, we all protect that right. The last time I checked, I have the same rights. My posts were also done as union president, not as a police officer. Feel free to check out my Facebook and Twitter handles.
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