HIALEAH, Florida. –Two Hialeah police officers and a civilian are charged after a homeless man was handcuffed and beaten unconscious last month, Miami-Dade State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Thursday.
The agents have been identified as 27-year-old Rafael Quinos Otano and 22-year-old Lorenzo Orfila.
Jail records show Otano is charged with kidnapping by a law enforcement officer and assault.
Orfila faces the same charges, in addition to an allegation of official misconduct by an official.
The third suspect, Ali Amin Saleh, 45, was charged with witness tampering.
According to Fernandez Rundle, the incident began around 5:13 p.m. Dec. 17 when officers were dispatched to Los Tres Conejitos Bakery at 1912 W. 60th St. regarding a disturbance.
She said the victim, Jose Ortega Gutierrez, 50, who is homeless, has been known to wander around the mall.
When the offices arrived, Orfila handcuffed the victim and placed him in the back of her patrol car, she said.
She said officers then took him to a secluded area off Northwest 97th Avenue and 174th Street, which is out of their area, and beat him until he lost. awareness.
The victim told detectives he woke up alone in the same area and was no longer handcuffed. He then started walking south on 97th Avenue and encountered an off-duty Hialeah police officer walking his dog who called 911.
According to the state’s attorney, Orfila then inquired about the victim’s condition with another officer and asked that officer to mark the call as “unreported.” The officer did not grant that request, she said.
Twelve days after the incident, the victim informed detectives that he had been approached by Saleh, whom he had seen before, and who asked him to sign an affidavit in English and Spanish regarding his meeting with the police. The victim said Saleh told him he would give him $1,200 in exchange and it would be easy money for him.
The victim, who the prosecutor says cannot read English or Spanish, signed the affidavit because he was homeless and in need of money.
According to Fernandez Rundle, the affidavit said the victim was arrested for drinking in public and was not beaten by the officers. It was also notarized, but the notary admitted to notarizing the affidavit as a favor to Saleh without the presence of the victim, she said.
Officers are also accused of not turning on their body-worn cameras throughout the encounter with the victim, but Fernandez Rundle said surveillance video shows the victim did nothing he should have done about. being arrested that day and surveillance video also supported his claim that Saleh had approached him.
The prosecutor said the three men, who were taken into custody Thursday morning, face non-bailable charges.
“We will not allow rogue police to abuse their powers and undermine our criminal justice system,” she said.
Ofila, who has been with the department for three years, and Otano, who has been with the department for five years, were both fired Thursday morning by the mayor of Hialeah, police chief George Fuente confirmed.
He said the two had had minor disciplinary issues in the past.
“May these arrests send a clear message to anyone who wears a badge,” Fuente said. “We will accept nothing less than unblemished integrity.”
Attorney Michael Pizzi, who represents Otano, said investigators had it all wrong.
“There was a horrific miscarriage of justice,” he said. “This case will go to trial and ultimately we expect Mr. Otano to be exonerated and get his job back.”
It is with great disappointment that I learn the news of the arrest of two of our police officers. Please read my full statement below. pic.twitter.com/dFya2rzs7k
— Stephen Bovo (@MayorBovo) January 26, 2023
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