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Javier Ortiz Broke Rules in Arrest of NFL Player at Rolling Loud, Panel Says
Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons / City of Miami Police

Javier Ortiz Broke Rules in Arrest of NFL Player at Rolling Loud, Panel Says

The football media world exploded in 2017 when New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson was arrested for allegedly shoving a cop at Miami's Rolling Loud. But as New Times warned at the time, the arresting officer — infamous Miami Police captain and union boss Javier Ortiz — has a history of making bogus arrests at music festivals.

Sure enough, prosecutors were forced to drop the charges against Anderson earlier this year after other officers on the scene were not able to corroborate the events that Ortiz claimed sparked the arrest. Other cops who witnessed the arrest testified they did not see Anderson "shove" Ortiz before the captain tackled him, as Ortiz had claimed. In a close-out memo, prosecutors said Ortiz also skipped two scheduled depositions regarding the case.

Now, Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), an independent group that can verbally reprimand officers but has no punishing power (thanks largely to Ortiz's efforts as union boss), has come down on Ortiz once again. The panel whacked him for skipping interviews with prosecutors and found he broke police rules.

"Because the State Attorney's close-out memorandum documents Captain Ortiz's failure to appear to two scheduled depositions and [the fact that] he never rebutted the claims made by officers who were never present, Staff recommends that the allegation of 'improper procedure' be sustained," the CIP says.

The panel was not able to prove allegations that Ortiz deliberately lied about the arrest of Anderson or fabricated portions of the arrest report. Ortiz has long maintained the CIP is not a legitimate panel and refused to acknowledge its findings.

This is far from Ortiz's first accusation of misconduct, use of excessive force, or fabrication of evidence. He has been accused repeatedly of writing factually "incorrect" arrest affidavits. In 2011, he claimed in sworn documents that an Ultra Music Festival attendee tried to fight police officers before Ortiz and a group of cops tackled him to the ground and tasered him, but video evidence showed no such threat occurred. Documents showed that a defense attorney working on the case was so troubled by Ortiz's conduct that the attorney referred the incident to the State Attorney's Office to possibly prosecute him for perjury, but prosecutors did nothing.

In 2009, Ortiz arrested NFL and former University of Miami star Jonathan Vilma on charges that were eventually dropped. Vilma claimed in a formal complaint that Ortiz became enraged during a traffic stop, waved a gun at him, and arrested him on bogus charges. Vilma agreed to pay $1,000 to a hospital's trauma center to have the charges dropped.

Separately, former CIP panel member Danny Suarez, a current Navy officer, said in a formal complaint that Ortiz once fabricated an entire arrest report to smear him after the two repeatedly sparred at public meetings. In 2017, when Ortiz was placed on desk duty after cyberstalking and doxxing a police critic, Ortiz's lawyer began circulating an arrest report in which Ortiz claimed Suarez had threatened him outside a downtown nightclub one night before fleeing cops. The basic facts of the arrest report seemed bizarre, and Ortiz and Suarez met repeatedly in person after the incident, but Ortiz somehow never once arrested Suarez for allegedly "fleeing" law enforcement. Suarez has filed complaints alleging the report is fake.

Now, Ortiz has been caught once again in a high-profile arrest that fell apart under basic scrutiny.

"None of the other officers present claim to have witnessed the alleged push," the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office wrote in May. It added that "additionally, in deposition Sergeant Alex Diaz claims to have only seen the defendant raise his hand to Captain Ortiz but never actually push him. Officer Kenya Crocker, who was also present, stated in deposition that while present she did not witness Mr. Anderson push Captain Ortiz or raise his hand to him."

Despite the fact that Ortiz — a cop who publicly called a dead 12-year-old a "thug" and was outed for filming ads for a testosterone-dispensing anti-aging clinic — "stepped down" from heading Lodge 20 of the Fraternal Order of Police at the end of 2017, he remains a powerful force in Miami.

Politicians, including Mayor Francis Suarez, still pose for photographs with him at events, and he remains the FOP's vice president while his self-described "best friend" Edward Lugo, a cop who nearly got fired after an FBI sting, is technically in charge. Lately, however, Ortiz has been leading the current round of union contract negotiations with the city as if nothing has changed.

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