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Police Brutality Conspiracy or a Misunderstanding?

Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer William Moore has been following the police brutality controversy surrounding a recent spat between three members of the Fort Lauderdale police department and a suspect. On December 5, 2008, Joshua Daniel Ortiz was taken into custody by law enforcement officers after police allege he was hostile towards the officers. When he arrived at the police station, Ortiz had suffered a broken nose. Ortiz was later charged with felony battery on a law enforcement officer as a result of the incident.

Ortiz was headed home at about 4:00 a.m. after a night on the town. He and his girlfriend were getting into an elevator to go to a parking garage when a fight broke out in the lobby area of the building between some members of the group Ortiz out with. Ortiz himself was not involved in the fight.

What happened next is only now beginning to come out, according to Broward criminal lawyer William Moore. Officers came to the area, where Ortiz allegedly yelled from the elevator at the Fort Lauderdale police who were breaking up the fight. According to the police report, Ortiz approached an officer aggressively, bumping his own nose against the officer’s nose. The officer says he pushed Ortiz off and prepared to arrest him. At that point, the police report indicates that Ortiz assumed a “fighting position” with fists clenched.

Ortiz says that the police report is almost entirely fabricated. He admits to speaking agitatedly to the officers, but says he did not fight them or intend to engage in a physical confrontation. His side of the story has gained significant credibility since his lawyer’s discovery of an elevator surveillance tape that caught the events on film. His criminal defense attorney says that he believes the video “speaks for itself” – Ortiz was falsely accused of battering police in order to justify their use of excessive force.

The felony battery on a law enforcement officer charge was dropped to a misdemeanor charge upon first review of the video by the State Attorney’s Office. Later, they dropped the charge against Ortiz completely, with an Assistant State Attorney noting that, “We thought based on the facts and the evidence, including the videotape, that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial.”

Unfortunately, police brutality allegations are often not fully investigated, and the person arrested is frequently viewed as unreliable. The Fort Lauderdale police officers who acted in this case were already cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation within the department – not an independent investigation. Additionally, it is not clear that the internal investigators had the benefit of viewing the videotape, an extremely important tool in determining whether the law enforcement officials misrepresented the facts in their police report or if Ortiz was subject to an inappropriate level of force. Ortiz says the officers “were on a power trip” and that he no longer trusts law enforcement officials as a result.

Broward criminal lawyer William Moore has experience in all kinds of criminal defense, including sex crimes and DUI. A conviction for a felony or misdemeanor can have consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, contact William Moore, P.A., which is an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

This article should be used for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice nor as implied representation of any person.

Article contributed by Mallory Shipman, Esq.

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