The City of Miami's police union is run by a person who once called a dead 12-year-old a "thug," has publicly called Islam a "religion that enslaves and allows the beating of women," has been sued multiple times for alleged cases of police misconduct, and habitually posts on social media about how undocumented immigrants bring crime to American cities. Now Javier Ortiz has been reprimanded again for posting a private woman's personal cell phone number on the internet and encouraging people to call her and yell at her — all because she caught a county cop speeding.
That woman, Claudia Castillo, told New Times in December that she feels traumatized after Ortiz's organized internet campaign, and Miami PD's internal affairs department already issued Ortiz a reprimand for cyber-bullying her. Now, Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an independent group that investigates complaints against city police, will do all it can to punish Ortiz for the incident: scold him publicly.
"CIP Staff agrees with Internal Affairs, in that Lieutenant Ortiz’s social media pages contained derogatory language and images about Ms. Castillo that may be perceived to ridicule, malign, disparage or reflect behavior that would reasonably be considered careless or irresponsible," the panel writes. "Further we find that as a result of Lieutenant Ortiz's posts, and the subsequent shares by his followers, he has and continues to negatively impact Ms. Castillo’s personal and professional life and has made her feel like she is in danger."
In January 2016, Castillo pulled over Miami-Dade Police Officer Daniel Fonticella after she caught him "pushing 90 miles an hour" on a nearby highway. She caught the incident on video; Fonticella himself agreed with Castillo on-camera and apologized for driving too fast.
But the incident touched a nerve with Ortiz, who posted at least eight times on social media to encourage his followers to call or message Castillo and tell her off:
Thanks in large part to the protest of the city's police union, the CIP cannot dole out its own punishments; instead, it can merely write stern words about Miami cops and then recommend that Internal Affairs issue various punishments. The board is effectively toothless.
In this case, Internal Affairs said Ortiz committed both a "discourtesy" and a violation of police procedure by doxxing a private citizen. The CIP's staff said the department didn't come down hard enough on the Fraternal Order of Police head and recommended that additional charges of "harassment" be sustained. (Internal Affairs does not use terms such as "guilty" or "innocent" to adjudicate cops; instead, it can label complaints as "sustained," "not sustained," "unfounded," or "exonerated" depending upon the department.)
Ortiz — who has never shied away from criticizing or insulting something he doesn't like — has long maintained that the CIP is a kangaroo court that doesn't deserve to exist. He does not recognize its legitimacy; in fact, the Fraternal Order of Police is fighting in the Florida Supreme Court to strip the CIP of its right to investigate cops.
The CIP report mentioned that Ortiz did not bother to respond to the panel's requests for an interview. But Ortiz reiterated his thoughts about the panel via text to New Times.
"On behalf of the FOP, no one cares about their findings," Ortiz said. "They'll be stripped of all powers once the Supreme Court rules soon, and you'll have no news to write about anymore."
Despite how obviously improper Ortiz's behavior was in this case — even Facebook itself flagged some of his posts as harassment and removed them — it took Internal Affairs a full ten months to investigate Castillo's complaint against Ortiz. IA sustained the charges of "discourtesy" and "improper procedure" against the union president, which IA said could be "grounds for dismissal, suspension, and demotion." Instead, Ortiz was simply reprimanded, and he remained a lieutenant.
But the CIP wasn't quite satisfied with IA's ruling and wants Ortiz's punishment to sting a bit more. During Ortiz's harassment campaign, he and his followers shared images of Castillo's dog, child, and business card — and the panel says many of the images remain online.
In one instance, Ortiz even shared a photo of Castillo standing on a boat with an unknown drink in her hand, and accused her of drinking while operating a boat. Castillo says the cup contained only Pepsi. He even tagged local TV news stations:
Lieutenant Ortiz posted a picture from Ms. Castillo’s Facebook page of her standing at the helm of a boat with an unknown drink can in her hand. On the photograph, Lieutenant Ortiz wrote, “Nobody is above the law Except me when I’m drinking.” #Claudia CastilloNeedsTo FollowHerOwnAdvice @nbc6 @wsvn @WPLGLocal10. “Claudia is the occupational safety officer at her job. Imagine that? #noValues.”
To date this meme remains posted on Lieutenant Ortiz social media accounts, and has generated 127 likes, 15 comments, and 149 shares.
In another post, Ortiz wrote, "Wannabe cop #ClaudiaCastillo likes to drink and drive recreational vessels." Later, he also accused Castillo's boyfriend of being a "deadbeat dad" who "isn't paying child support."
When New Times asked Ortiz about the incident in December, he simply texted back, "No regrets." He then called Castillo a "danger to my members and law enforcement as a whole." Ortiz maintains that his posts were made as the "union president," not in his formal position as a cop, which would mean he has more leeway to post what he wants online.
At the CIP's upcoming meeting, the panel will also recommend punishment for another cop, Miguel Garcia, for improperly looking up Castillo's personal information on the police Driver and Vehicle Information Database.
Castillo, meanwhile, told New Times in December that she's flabbergasted that some people see her as the villain in this case.
"I'm not a perfect person, obviously," she said, "but I'm not the one sworn to uphold the law."
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