MIAMI – The Miami Fraternal Order of Police defended one of its officers who FHP said was pulled over by a state trooper while driving a Miami police cruiser 120 mph on Florida's Turnpike.
Officer Fausto Lopez, 35, was charged with reckless driving in the Oct. 11 incident. An FHP trooper pulled Lopez over in the southbound lanes of Florida's Turnpike near Hollywood Boulevard after following him for 12 miles in seven minutes at speeds reaching 120 mph, police said.
The police officer drew her weapon when Lopez finally pulled over, then handcuffed him.
In a letter, Sergeant Javier Ortiz defended Lopez, writing, "Pulling a firearm on a police officer in full uniform in a marked unit is extremely reckless and unprofessional."
Ortiz, the vice president of the order, questioned the FHP trooper's motives, writing that she only wanted to cite a City of Miami police officer.
On the dash cam video, the FHP trooper is heard saying, "This is not a first time occurrence with y'all. Y'all come from that way all the time -- this Miami police car -- and we never catch it."
Ortiz also questioned why the FHP trooper, if she thought the vehicle was stolen, didn't conduct a felony stop and wait for back-up. He said that Lopez was not driving 120 mph.
"Why did she continue to follow the police vehicle after being told several times to stop by her supervisors? Why didn't she verify with dispatch if any Miami Police Department vehicles were stolen? "Why did she activate her police equipment when she can't even see the police vehicle?" he wrote.
FHP defended the trooper's actions, saying it could have been important to stop the police cruiser if it had been stolen or if its driver was involved in a crime.
"She wanted to, evidently, make contact with him, detain him, to find out what was causing him to drive in that fashion," said Sgt. Mark Wysocky, of FHP.
Lopez was given a reckless driving ticket. He faces a court hearing for the second-degree misdemeanor.
Lopez has been with the Miami Police Department for several years and has had a good driving record, both before and after becoming a police officer. He remains on duty. The police chief said he is waiting for the outcome of the criminal charge and an internal affairs investigation.