Invincible: Miami Police Captain, Javier Ortiz, Has Terrorized Civilians, Colleagues and Others for Over a Decade While Always Keeping His Job
Politico and the Miami Herald covered the most recent suspension of the notoriously corrupt and racist police captain whose actions have been largely protected by the police union.
Javier Ortiz, a white Cuban 17-year veteran of the Miami Police Department and former union president of the Fraternal Order of Police in South Florida, is a menace to society. If the phrase “crooked cop” was a dictionary entry, an image of Ortiz would likely accompany the definition. Here’s a brief list of his career lowlights:
49 complaints against him to Internal Affairs
19 use-of-force incidents filed against him
$600,000 worth of lawsuit settlements
Racist social media posts that mocked victims of police violence
To call Ortiz bad at his job would be an insult to people who are actually bad at their jobs. Ortiz is a threat to public safety and a high-ranking officer in one of the biggest police departments in the country. He has caused a great deal of turmoil to [primarily] Black and Brown residents of Miami, as well as intimidated and bullied many of his subordinates. Ortiz is currently suspended and was formerly the subject of a federal investigation into his misconduct.
He is still being paid by the tax dollars of Miami residents while on leave for a pending investigation. His status as a Miami lawman: seemingly indestructible.
A recent Politico editorial titled “How Do Bad Cops Stay in Power? Just Look at Miami,” gets into the weeds of Ortiz’s nearly two-decade-long reign of terror as a Miami officer. Ortiz, who once told a man that was planning to report him to Internal Affairs, quote: “This is my neighborhood and I run this shit the way I want to,” epitomizes what it means for an officer to be protected by qualified immunity and covered by police bill of rights specifically written to protect officers like him when they are accused of misconduct.
Ortiz, who despite being an obviously white-presenting Cuban officer, has in the past made claims that he is a Black male at a public meeting, a move that garnered him a suspension as he sought to implement the “one-drop rule” as biological evidence of Blackness, despite previously identifying himself as a white Cuban. His motivation for doing so? To get a promotion within the department.
The irony of Ortiz proclaiming Blackness is interesting, to say the least considering that 39 percent of complaints made against him in a state and federally-reviewed civil rights investigation were made by Black people. Among other outlandish moments that have been attributed to Ortiz’s policing was his attempt at organizing a boycott of a Beyoncé concert for being for what he described as “anti-police” messaging in her music/videos. Making ridiculous identity claims and going on tirades against Black pop stars is one thing, but it is Ortiz’s history of violence that has made him a persistent threat and liability to the department.
“I’ve known Javi for 15 years. One thing I realized: Wherever he is, you want to be nowhere near him. He’s done nefarious things,” Miami Police Lt. Jermaine Douglas told Politico. “Javi is a bad cop protected by bad leaders. You can say it’s a bad system. The system itself is broken. But at some point, you have managers and leadership above him who are supposed to tame that, to address that.”
Ortiz has been accused of brutalizing or harassing a teacher, a college student, bar patrons, motorists, a maintenance worker installing electrical lines, a drone operator and NFL players, which is still just a shortlist of his egregious actions. He even made news headlines for pulling a gun on an animal rights activist who was trespassing in an attempt to free a whale. Yet in spite of his various episodes of overreach and violent misconduct, his superiors have been hard-pressed to terminate him based on his union contract and classified protection of the police bill of rights that includes Florida as one of the 21 states where officers are shielded from severe disciplinary action on account of misconduct.
Ortiz is also enthralled in a lawsuit filed by two colleagues, a Hispanic male sergeant and a Black female major who have filed suit against him for harassment.
“He has made their lives miserable, a living hell,” Miami attorney Michael Pizzi told the Miami Herald. “It is not a coincidence that he has been suspended from the police force because the city of Miami is liable for condoning Captain Ortiz’s conduct.”
So what does it mean for a major city like Miami to have a corrupt, racist police captain in their midst whose misconduct is not a secret to his community nor his colleagues? Ortiz’s lawyer, Rick Diaz describes Ortiz as a “no-nonsense lawman” who polices with “an attitude of zero-tolerance,” when in reality he is a municipal terrorist who does not need to have any jurisdiction in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
His current suspension is the third time he has been suspended throughout his tenure on the force. Hopefully, the internal investigation finds him guilty of every complaint levied against him and exploits whatever loophole is needed to remove him from the force. This nation cannot even begin to have a serious conversation about police reform so long as there are known outlaws patrolling the streets with a badge and license to kill.
The Miami Police Department ridding itself of Javier Ortiz could set a real precedent for other law enforcement agencies to follow, and deconstruct the air of invincibility that is carried by far too many cops.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donney Rose is a Writer, Educator, Organizer and Chief Content Editor at The North Star