MIAMI -- Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Lt. Javier Ortiz has been reassigned, removed from the street and placed on desk duty without his gun, CBS Miami reports.
The disciplinary action stems from a video shot by civilian Claudia Castillo, in which she captured her pursuit of Miami-Dade police officer Daniel Fonticiella. When she finally stopped him, she gave him a classic police lecture. Thousands of people viewed the video.
Ortiz apparently didn’t agree with her social media shaming of Fonticiella. Ortiz posted her personal information on his social media accounts. He also posted several photos of Castillo, including a few of her driving a boat with a beer in hand. One of the pictures included the caption, “Nobody is above the law except me when I’m driving.”
Ortiz’s action prompted internal affairs to investigate. After 10 months, they found he violated the rules, but only reprimanded him.
On Tuesday, March 21, Miami’s Civilian Investigative Panel (CIP), which looks into police complaints, found Ortiz guilty.
“Lt. Javier Ortiz has been relieved of duty and administratively been reassigned with pay pending a court date of a restraining order signed by a judge,” police said.
The CIP reprimanded Ortiz and said he’d broken department policy by posting her personal information, but that was the most they could do.
Both Ortiz and Castillo were at the CIP hearing at which Ortiz was disciplined. Documents later filed in court reveal that she feared for her safety after testifying.
“On March 21st, 2017, I was at the Civilian Investigative Panel hearing where Javi Ortiz was found guilty of Harassment, Discourtesy and Improper Procedure toward me,” Castillo wrote the court. “Javi was obviously angered by the decision, and when I attempted to leave City Hall, he followed me toward the parking lot. Javi was visibly upset and was stopped by several individuals including police officers who were present. I had to be escorted to my car because I was in fear for my safety.”
The next day, Castillo filed for an emergency restraining order against the union chief.
“He is a lunatic with a gun and badge. And I fear for my safety. And I don’t have a gun or a badge. I don’t have anything to protect myself with. And the people who are supposed to be protecting me are on his team,” she said.
Speaking to CBS Miami by phone Friday night, Castillo explained she had no choice but to get the restraining order.
“This scared the crap out of her. It was obviously harassment. He was intimidating her,” said Danny Suarez, a candidate for the Miami Commission.
Suarez, who used to sit on the Civilian Investigative Panel, says he escorted Castillo out. He claims Ortiz was doing everything he could to mess with her.
“He is an evil man. He will attack you left and right. This is a guy who tried to boycott Beyoncé for God’s sake,” he said.
Ortiz’s attorney denied any harassment.
“Today is just another attack on him because he’s a strong leader for his men,” said Robert Buschel, Ortiz’s attorney.
In fact, Buschel alleges this may not be about Castillo at all.
CBS Miami obtained a 2012 Miami Police Department incident report which describes a confrontation between an intoxicated Suarez and Ortiz outside a club. The officer wrote that Suarez shouted profanities at Ortiz and said “I’m going to get you fired.”
“We are going to investigate that. It certainly is a lead we are going to follow up on. And that report explains a lot,” he said.
Suarez says he had no recollection of that conversation and that the report is a fabrication.
Castillo maintains Suarez had nothing to do with her restraining order.
“I have reason to fear, you know,” Castillo said. “And nobody has had to coach to me to feel the fear that I feel.”
Ortiz is sidelined until an April 5 hearing on the restraining order. However, Ortiz’s attorney has filed emergency motion to move the hearing up, so it may happen sooner.