HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The details of an incident that happened at a Hollywood apartment complex are strikingly similar to the case of a Minnesota police officer who was charged with manslaughter for firing her gun instead of a taser, according to attorneys representing a man shot in the back last July.
Michael Ortiz was shot by Hollywood police in July of 2021 and is now paralyzed from the waist down after an officer meant to reach for a taser but instead grabbed his gun.
In December of 2021, Minnesota police officer Kim Potter was convicted for manslaughter in the death of Daunte Wright.
Ben Crump, one of the attorneys for Oritz, said: “It did not work for the officer in Minnesota and it should not work in Hollywood, Florida.”
On July 3, 2021, Ortiz called 911 himself and fire rescue responded to an apartment complex on Hollywood Boulevard.
When they arrived, they said a naked Ortiz came out of the apartment and was struggling with first responders and threatening to kill himself.
Police arrived and tried to intervene tasering and restraining Ortiz, but they said as they tried to get him into the elevator to bring him to a rescue vehicle, Ortiz continued to resist.
That’s when they say an officer intended to pull out a taser to use on Ortiz again, but instead, the officer pulled out his gun.
“He was naked, face down in handcuffs, and they shot him in the back,” said Ben Crump, who is also an attorney representing Ortiz.
Ortiz’s attorneys want to see the Hollywood officer held accountable for the shooting and say the excuse of pulling the gun instead of a taser isn’t acceptable.
“Just take responsibility for what you did to him and stop trying to destroy a good man,” said Hunter Shkolnik, one of the attorneys for Ortiz.
Shkolnik said his client has to re-learn what it “means to get around. To go to the bathroom, to clean himself, and right now while he’s learning, he’s relying on his mother. That is not what a grown man should ever have to do.”
Hollywood police said that the officer has been relieved of his duties as a sworn officer and has been assigned administrative tasks until an investigation is completed.
Attorneys for Ortiz said they want the surveillance video that shows the entire incident. The attorneys want it released not only to the family but they want the public to see the video and they want it released immediately.
In a response to an inquiry from Local 10 News, Hollywood police said the officer involved started with the department in June of 2000 and is 49 years old.
Hollywood police released this statement Tuesday detailing the incident.
“On July 3rd, 2021, officers with the Hollywood Police Department were called to 5200 Hollywood Blvd to assist Hollywood Fire Rescue with a combative subject. The subject, later identified as 42-year-old Michael Ortiz, called 911 reporting chest pains, ingestion of narcotics and, according to the Fire Rescue call log, was making delusional and suicidal statements. When Hollywood Fire Rescue arrived he refused to answer the door so Fire Rescue requested Hollywood Police respond with lights and sirens.
“While Fire Rescue was waiting for the Police to arrive, Mr. Ortiz came out of a 6th-floor apartment. He was naked, combative with the paramedics, and visibly agitated stating that he was going to jump from the 6th-floor balcony.
“When officers met up with Mr. Ortiz, paramedics were trying to gain control. An officer deployed his taser, and Mr. Ortiz was placed in restraints. As officers attempted to move him into the elevator to get him downstairs to the waiting stretcher and rescue vehicle outside, Mr. Ortiz used his legs to resist being placed inside the small elevator. As he continued to resist, an officer discharged his firearm, striking Mr. Ortiz once. Officers and Fire Rescue personnel moved Mr. Ortiz into the elevator so that he could be taken downstairs for initial treatment and transported to the hospital.
“The Hollywood Police Department notified the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) which responded to conduct an investigation. While the investigation is still active and ongoing, an initial review suggests the officer intended to deploy his taser but instead discharged his firearm. The officer was immediately relieved of his duties as a sworn officer and is assigned to administrative tasks until the completion of the investigation. The Hollywood Police Department is fully cooperating with FDLE and providing additional information as the investigation continues. Once FDLE completes its investigation, the findings will be submitted to the State Attorney’s Office for review. The Hollywood Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit will also conduct an independent administrative investigation.
“The day after the incident, the Hollywood Police Department issued a press release providing initial information to media outlets who asked for details about the shooting. On July 12th, 2021, the Hollywood Police Department received correspondence from the law firm of Morgan and Morgan, on behalf of Mr. Ortiz’s family, requesting the department preserve all evidence and records, which has been done. The firm also indicated they mailed a public records request to the general police headquarters address, bypassing the Public Records Request online web portal. There is no record of this physical letter being received by the Records Division. Morgan and Morgan have advised they are no longer representing Mr. Ortiz. No other public records requests concerning this matter had been received until Monday, February 7, 2022.
“Following the incident, the Hollywood Police Department conducted a review of existing procedures, policies, and training. The Department recognizes this is an unfortunate incident and is doing what it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We empathize with Mr. Ortiz and his family and know they have many questions about that evening. Our hope is that once the investigation is complete, we will be able to meet with them and provide any additional information they are seeking.”