Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida are facing scrutiny and criticism after police officers beat a man in an elevator and then charged him with assaulting them. What is most disturbing is that internal affairs investigated Joshua Daniel Ortiz’s, 22, claims and completely cleared the officers — yet never appeared to have reviewed the surveillance tape (below) that clearly contradicts by the officers. The department, however, will not discipline the officers for a clearly bogus criminal charge and either intentionally misleading or false reports.
Broward prosecutors have dropped the case against Ortiz (who suffered a broken nose), but the question is what will happen to Officers Derek Lade, Stefan Silver and Steve Smith.
Department Spokesman Sgt. Frank Sousa, insists “It was not a beating. The video clearly shows that [Ortiz] made a movement toward the officer.”
The incident occurred at 4:10am in a bank lobby when Ortiz, his girlfriend and friends got into an elevator, heading to a parking garage. His friends got into a fight. When police were called, the officers said Ortiz attacked them. Lade wrote that Ortiz yelled at them from the elevator and “walked right up to me hitting his nose to my nose.” He also said that “As I approached Ortiz to take him into custody, Ortiz spun around to face me and assumed a fighting stance (both left and right hand clenched into fists and body bladed).”
The video below shows an unprovoked attack. Ortiz does seem to get in the face of an officer but it is ridiculous to suggest that this was assault. It certainly did not justify the pummeling from the officer. It was the officers who appear to have escalated the scene. It do not blame the officer shoving Ortiz back, but there is no assault here and the report does not comport with the report filed by the officers.
The police, however, are clearly not planning to take any action against officers who wrote out a charge that they were assaulted by Ortiz. That sends a clear message to all of the officers that they will not be held accountable for exaggerating or manufacturing claims.
Recently, New York police have been found to have lied in a series of cases due to videotapes, here. This includes an officer who charged a man after beating him outside of an elevator, here. In New York, however, they charged the officers.