March 4, 2009

Charges dropped against beating victim.

Originally, Fort Lauderdale Police charged Joshua Ortiz attacked and provoked them on an elevator back in December.

The police were responding to a complaint that several men were arguing in the lobby of 201 SW First Avenue. Ortiz wasn't one of those men, but yelled at the officers to leave the men alone from the elevator in the lobby.

Officer Derek Lade wrote a police report describing what he claims happened:
"I turned to Ortiz, and instructed him to get back in the elevator and return to his vehicle.I advised him to leave because he was not part of the incident. Ortiz continued to yell at me and walked right up to me, hitting his nose to my nose. A that point I struck Ortiz in the chest with a double handed palm heal strike, sending him to the rear of the elevator facing away from me. 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.),"
Unfortunately for Officer Lade, there was a security camera in the elevator, and it showed something very different;

In the tape, we see one of Ortiz's companions standing in the door of the elevator: he moves aside as Lade walks up, Ortiz moves to the door, both hands tucked in his belt, and Lade indeed "struck Ortiz in the chest with a double handed palm heal strike, sending him to the rear of the elevator," But Ortiz hit the back wall hard with his back, facing Lade the entire time, while Lade was on Ortiz the entire time beating the crap out of him, two other cops right next to him, and third joining in.

Officer Derek Lade lied. And so did the cops who corroborated his story.

Even viewing the tape from the lobby end fails to substantiate Lade's story. We can see Ortiz yelling at the cops, but we can see the cops beating on the two guys who were arguing in the first place. From the tape, it's apparent that the first thing the cops did was to increase the level of violence, tackling the arguing men, hitting them, and throwing them to the floor. Ortiz and other members of his party appear to be trying to get the cops to calm down and use less violence.

After the cops beat the shit out of Ortiz, everyone exits the elevator, and a woman can be seen screaming at the cops. One of the cops throws her to the floor before arresting her.

It's a sickening display. But that's not the worst part of this utterly disgusting tale of police brutality and falsified reports.

This is what should have every citizen demanding an accounting:

Internal affairs investigators with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department reviewed the incident over a month ago and found no violations of agency policy or procedures, said Sgt. Frank Sousa, the department's spokesperson.

"It was not a beating," Sousa said. "The video clearly shows that [Ortiz] made a movement toward the officer."
Fortunately, the prosecuting attorney upheld justice and dismissed the charges. Kudos to Assistant State Attorney Lee Cohen.

Officers Lade, Smith (who can be seen delivering a roundhouse blow into Ortiz's face from behind Lade) and whoever watched that tape and concluded the cops were justified need to be removed from public service.

We can't tolerate cops who step over line, or internal affairs officers who can't tell where the line is.

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