Witness: Suspended Union Chief Javier Ortiz Circulated False Report to Smear Him

According to a June 2012 police report, Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP) member Danny Suarez ran into Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz outside the nightclub Sugar, threatened to get Ortiz fired, obstructed a traffic stop, and — when Ortiz ordered Suarez to get out of his friend's car — ran away from the scene of the crime. Ortiz and Suarez, both well-known public figures in the city, have interacted many times in the five years since. But Ortiz has never arrested Suarez for allegedly running away from him in 2012.

Fleeing after a cop gives you an order is a crime. So is obstructing an arrest. Ortiz, a Miami Police lieutenant, takes his job as seriously as any cop possibly can. So why would he neglect to arrest Suarez, who in his role at the CIP — which investigates complaints against Miami cops — has since become one of Ortiz's loudest critics?

According to Suarez, that's because Ortiz made up the entire story about that nightclub encounter, as well as an accompanying police report, which Ortiz's attorney sent to several Miami journalists this past weekend. Suarez says the whole effort is an attempt to smear him after he played a key role in the events last week that led to Ortiz's suspension with pay.

Ortiz landed in hot water Friday after a local woman, Claudia Castillo — whom Ortiz had repeatedly harassed on Facebook — filed a restraining order against him. Suarez is one of the chief witnesses in the restraining-order case.

"The report is completely fabricated," Suarez tells New Times. "I must be the only person in U.S. history who has fled law enforcement and is known by law enforcement but never got arrested for it."

Ortiz declined to comment and instead referred New Times to his lawyer, Robert Buschel. The attorney insists the report is indeed legitimate.

"This is an official report, written under oath, and the officer who wrote it is going to stand by it," Buschel says.

Suarez says he'll file complaints today with Miami PD's internal affairs, the CIP, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Court records show that Suarez, a current petty officer in the U.S. Naval Reserves, has never been charged with a crime in Miami-Dade County.

Suarez reviewed police complaints on the CIP board for six years before resigning in 2017 to run for Miami City Commission. In that time, Suarez says, he never saw Ortiz's report. He says he's suspicious that it suddenly appeared in reporters' inboxes just as he became a witness in a key case to determine Ortiz's future.

"They've known where I live," Suarez says. "They've known I’m on the CIP. But I only found out about this report yesterday, five years later, at the same time Ortiz was suspended?"

This is not the first time someone has alleged that Ortiz wrote a false police report. In 2011, he was part of a group of cops that got in trouble for tasering an innocent man at Ultra Music Festival. During the investigation into the incident, a bystander revealed that he'd taken video of the tasering and that the video contradicted portions of Ortiz's official report.

In 2012, local defense attorney Scott Srebnick emailed the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office and suggested taking action against Ortiz and the other officers involved. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle promised to investigate but to date has not brought charges against Ortiz.

The drama over Suarez's police report comes after Ortiz was stripped of his gun and given a desk job last week — a surprising demotion for one of the most powerful police officers in Miami. The punishment stems from a January 2016 incident in which Castillo pulled over a Miami-Dade Police officer on camera and accused him of speeding. The cop apologized, and the entire ordeal was fairly civil in tone.

Ortiz, however, became incensed. He published Castillo's personal phone number online and encouraged people to call her. He also accused her of drunk boating and called Castillo's boyfriend a deadbeat who doesn't pay child support. Miami PD's internal affairs unit found Ortiz guilty of violating departmental policy and issued him a reprimand.

But Castillo also complained to the CIP. When that panel heard her case last week, both Ortiz and Suarez attended the meeting. Castillo claims that Ortiz followed her into the hallway after her testimony and that she was so afraid she asked city employees to escort her outside. Upon seeing the escort, Castillo says, Ortiz spied on her through a bathroom window.

Suarez was one of the people who escorted Castillo out of the building, and he later encouraged her to file a restraining order against Ortiz. Once that order was granted last week, Ortiz was suspended under standard department policy for any cop hit with a restraining order.

Ortiz and Buschel say that Castillo's restraining order is illegitimate and that she filed for the order only because Suarez encouraged her. Buschel suggests the restraining order was Suarez's idea.

"Danny Suarez tried to encourage her to get a restraining order," Buschel says. The lawyer circulated the police report to multiple media outlets over the weekend. He told CBS Miami this past Friday that he and Ortiz plan to "investigate" whether the restraining order is part of a vendetta Suarez has against Ortiz.
The facts in the police report seem odd. Around 2:30 a.m. June 8, 2012, Ortiz and Officer Michael New say they were conducting a traffic stop outside Sugar, located at 2301 SW 32nd Ave. The report says Suarez then appeared outside the club and seemed drunk. The cops wrote that Suarez got into a Toyota Camry. From the car, Suarez then allegedly lowered his window and began screaming at Ortiz.

"You don't know who I am, fucker?" the report says Suarez yelled. "I'm Danny Suarez, the Miami police explorer you tried to kick out. I now work for the CIP, and you better watch out because I'm going to get you fired. You got no fucking right to be pulling cars over."

The cops said they ordered Suarez to stop. Suarez allegedly didn't stop.

"You better watch your back, nigga," the report claims Suarez yelled. "I got eyes on you. I know where you be!"

At this, the report says, Ortiz ordered Suarez to get out of the car. But instead, Suarez told the car's driver, "Let's dip," and then Suarez "fled north on SW 32nd Avenue."

The report says New and Ortiz did not immediately call the incident in over police radio and waited until "a later time" because of a K-9 search taking up the airwaves.

Asked why the cops never bothered to file charges against Suarez for fleeing from police, resisting an officer without violence, or obstruction, Buschel opines that state statutes say only the person driving the car can be charged with fleeing a cop. Officers could have charged Suarez with resisting arrest or interfering with an investigation.

Suarez admits that he used to frequent Sugar regularly and that he once ran into Ortiz (and other cops) standing guard outside. But he denies any sort of altercation took place between them.

"They wrote that I fled, they wrote that they knew where I worked, they wrote they knew where I lived, but nobody did anything about this?" Suarez asks.
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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.