HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Attorneys Ben Crump and Hunter Shkolnik stood next to Michael Ortiz, a wheelchair user since a police bullet pierced his spine and his pancreas. The police shooting left him paralyzed on July 3 in Hollywood.
“He was having a crisis; he needed a helping hand. He didn’t need a bullet in his spine,” Crump said, adding the Hollywood Police Department needs to release the video of the shooting.
Ortiz had a message for the police officer during the news conference on Monday: “Why? Why did you have the need to shoot me?”
Ortiz called 911 to ask for help and reported he was having a mental health crisis. He took a shower and walked outside to meet first responders. After the shooting, officers released a statement describing Ortiz as a “combative subject” and reported there was a struggle.
“He was face down. He was handcuffed. They had two tasers, one in each shoulder,” said Cynthia Urquidez, Ortiz’s sister. “What was the point of them shooting at my brother?”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was still investigating the shooting on Monday.
“Eight months of Michael every day trying to figure out why did the police officer shoot him in the back?” Crump said. “Why is he paralyzed for life? Why does he have over $1.4 million in medical bills that continue to rise every day? Why would the Hollywood Police Department continue to deny them the answers that they deserve? The truth that they deserve?”
Shkolnik said Ortiz’s family deserves answers now.
“You shouldn’t require lawyers to go to court to let the community know why someone gets shot in the back, while they’re laying handcuffed, naked,” Shkolnik said. “We shouldn’t have to be sitting here filing lawsuits just to get the pictures that answer the questions of why was someone shot in the back? Why was Michael shot in the back, laying on the ground, handcuffed?”
The Hollywood Police Department didn’t respond to questions about the status of the police officer involved.
4:30 p.m. report