Five Red Flags About Miami's New Cop Union Chief, Including an FBI ProbeEXPAND
Javier Ortiz via Twitter

Five Red Flags About Miami's New Cop Union Chief, Including an FBI Probe

This past Wednesday, newly minted Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz, the most infamous, nakedly rude, and loudmouthed cop in South Florida, stepped down from his post as head of the city's Fraternal Order of Police. But "stepped down" might be giving him too much credit: He voluntarily demoted himself to vice president and put his well-known buddy, Sgt. Edward Lugo, in charge of the union. Ortiz somehow made the switch without any formal election process.

Lugo's track record is arguably worse than his predecessor's. Local blogger Al Crespo has been keeping tabs on Lugo for years: Most notable, Crespo obtained audio from an FBI sting in which the feds alleged the sergeant was using his badge to protect legitimate criminals. MPD's internal affairs unit recommended firing Lugo after the incident, but he got off on a technicality (the investigation took too long), and now he's in charge of the city police union. Here are the reasons why that might not be a great thing:

1. The FBI probe, which Ortiz personally helped Lugo beat. 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.

Here's the FBI audio:

2. Lugo's record of complaints. Crespo also obtained Lugo's internal affairs file from 2011: As of six years ago, the union head had 19 citizen complaints, including ten excessive-force allegations. According to city documents, Lugo has previously been placed on the Civilian Investigative Panel's "monitoring list" for cops with particularly egregious complaint histories.

3. The time he arrested an 85-year-old woman and claimed she tried to steal his gun. According to Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP) documents, Lugo in 2011 arrested Hazel Mays, an 85-year-old woman, on charges of "battery on a police officer, resisting an officer without violence, and depriving an officer of his weapon." He also arrested Mays' daughter Rebecca. But in a complaint later filed with the CIP, the Mayses says Lugo roughed them up:

Dorothy Mays stated on June 26, 2011, she along with her sister, Rebecca Mays and her 85-year-old mother, Hazel Mays walked to an arson cite near Grand Avenue and Elizabeth Street. Dorothy Mays observed her mother walking with Officer Edward Lugo and when she attempted to approach and take her mother home, Officer Lugo informed her that her mother was under arrest for failure to follow police instructions in that she entered the taped off crime scene after being instructed to remain on the sidewalk. Officer Lugo reportedly grabbed Dorothy Mays, slammed her on the ground and on a police cruiser, either of which resulted in an abrasion to her left elbow. When Ms. Mays complained of possible injury, Officer Lugo allegedly replied, "I don't give a fuck, get in the car." When Officer Lugo was informed that 85-year-old Hazel Mays needed to take prescription medication before being transported to jail, he alleged replied, "I don't care." Ms. Mays stated that neither she nor her mother Hazel attempted to take Officer Lugo's firearm as he alleged. Once Dorothy and Hazel Mays were transported to the police station on Flagler Street, they encountered Officer Carlos Deschamps who allegedly used profanity when he addressed the complainants. Hazel Mays reiterated the statements of her daughter, Dorothy Mays. Officers Lugo and Deschamps denied the allegations in their Internal Affairs sworn statements. Internal Affairs rendered a finding of Inconclusive regarding the allegation Discourtesy as to Officer Edward Lugo and Carlos Deschamps. A disposition of "Inconclusive" was also rendered as to the allegation of Abusive Treatment filed against Officer Lugo. 

4. The Ultra beating and subsequent lawsuit. And according to Miami New Times story from 2014:

The Miami Police Department is facing a police brutality lawsuit after officers allegedly beating up a man at Ultra Music Festival in 2011 because his girlfriend tried to bring a glow stick into the notoriously neon-tinged fest. That's at least the story of plaintiff Jesse Campodonico, a 27-year-old fitness trainer from New York.

According to The Miami Herald, Campodonico and his girlfriend Crystal Iglesias had flown down in March 2011 for the EDM blow out, but when they tried to enter Bicentennial Park on the first day they were refused entry because Iglesias was holding a glow stick.

The couple was originally dealing with a private security guard, but Miami police, all working as off-duty security detail, quickly got involved. Officer Nathaniel Dauphin told the couple that they couldn't enter.

Campodonico claims that Dauphin and three other officers then beat him, choked him, and needlessly tasered him three times. At the time Campodonico was charged with battery, but was later cleared with those charges. Prosecutors determined that the officers over reached their bounds by tasering Campodonico while he was already on the ground.

The other officers involved are Harold James, Edward Lugo and Javier Ortiz. The suit also claims that Ortiz lied during an internal report on the incident.

5. Just generally being buddies with Javier Ortiz. How do we love Javi? Let us count the ways. We'll miss him.

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