Newly-obtained video shows on-duty Miami Gardens cop taking woman into hotel
Woman claims Sgt. Javier Romaguera groped her in hotel room
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – When a police call came that a 23-year-old woman with mental problems had walked away from a group home, Miami Gardens police Sgt. Javier Romaguera was supposed to help her.
After picking her up, Romaguera can be heard in a radio transmission claiming he was taking her to her former residence in Miramar.
Instead, the woman claims he took her to the Stadium Hotel after midnight, booked her a room and tried to have sex with her, touching her neck and breasts before leaving after she refused his advances and began crying.
Romaguera was suspended from the department with pay after Local 10 News reported on the allegations last November. A criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is ongoing.
"She didn't run. She didn't call the police, because he was the police," said attorney Stephan Lopez, who is representing the woman along with attorney Phillip Ortiz.
Her attorneys now say that new hotel surveillance video that they obtained in a now-settled lawsuit they filed against the Stadium Hotel bolsters the woman's claims.
The video shows Romaguera escorting the woman, whose identity is being protected due to the nature of the case, to the room, at times arm-in-arm, at other times holding her hand. It also reveals that he spent 10 minutes inside the room alone with her before leaving.
"The surveillance videos clearly establish a complete departure from all law enforcement policies and procedures," Ortiz wrote in a statement to Local 10 News.
But what Romaguera tells the clerk while paying for the room with his personal credit card may be more damaging, including his admonition to the clerk that "no can knows she's here."
"It's kind of sad," he explains at the counter. "She's just a baby … she's Haitian, so she doesn't speak English. Her parents brought her here so she could have an education ... She comes here with her husband. He beats the s*** out of her. We're trying to find him, but she can't go back to the house."
The problem with his story is that there was no reported domestic violence incident that night and, according to her attorneys and a close friend, she isn't married.
"Sgt. Romaguera's justification for holding our client against her will at the Stadium Hotel that evening is completely devoid of any factual basis," Ortiz said. "She was never the victim of a vicious domestic violence incident who had nowhere to seek refuge. This was a deliberate act designed to prey on a young woman."
Romaguera had another story, telling the clerk, "I would rather pay whatever because I have four daughters."
The sergeant also claimed that the State Attorney's Office would reimburse him and that social services would check up on her -- something her attorneys say never happened. The State Attorney's Office wouldn't comment on the open case.
After watching the video for the first time, a close friend of the woman, Jensen Mondesir, said he found it disturbing.
"When he's walking up to the hotel, he's holding her hand," Mondesir said. "They're very close. It's not police conduct at all, any of these things that he is doing."
It was Mondesir who found the woman at the hotel and filed an Internal Affairs complaint against Romaguera. He said the woman had never been married and was not a victim of domestic abuse.
"You wouldn't assume a police officer would fabricate something that deep," Mondesir said.
Romaguera refused to comment about the incident when confronted by Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman at the time the initial story aired, laughing at the allegation before walking back inside his home.
Attempts to reach Romaguera this time around were unsuccessful and a message left at the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association went unreturned. The State Attorney's Office said it expected the FDLE to conclude the criminal investigation in the coming weeks.
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