A Florida A man who was paralyzed when a police officer shot him after mistaking his gun for a Taser filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Hollywood, the officer and others, saying, “My life was destroyed.”

Michael Ortiz is seeking unspecified millions of dollars from Hollywood, Fla., and Henry Andrews, 50, an officer who also faces felony charges in the 2021 shooting, one of several in the past 20 years in which officers say they mistakenly took their weapons for their Taser. The federal civil rights lawsuit also names officers Dionte Roots and Johnny Jimenez, who were under Ortiz’s control when Andrews shot him.

Ortiz told reporters that not only his life was destroyed, but also that of his mother, who had to change his diapers and provide other care.

He called 911 while suffering from mental health problems, but was shot while he was on the ground in handcuffs.

“She treats me like I’m six months old,” said Ortiz, 43, who is paralyzed from the chest down and uses a wheelchair. He owes $3 million in medical bills and will need lifelong care.

Florida civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Ortiz along with attorney Hunter Shkolnik, said it was an “injustice” that Andrews was only charged with a misdemeanor.

“Michael Ortiz needed help and he got shot in the back,” Crump said.

Crump represents victims of alleged police misconduct, including the families of Michael Brown, Breona Taylor and George Floyd, black Americans killed by officers in high-profile cases.

“There should be more accountability for the officer,” Crump said.

Hollywood officials declined to comment. Attorney Jeremy Kroll, who is representing Andrews in the culpable negligence case, said another attorney will be hired for Ortiz’s lawsuit.

“In response to a complex and chaotic situation, Officer Andrews intended to use a Taser and mistakenly discharged his firearm. There was no intent to cause harm in this case. He and his family continue to keep Mr. Ortiz in their thoughts and prayers,” Kroll said.

It could not be determined whether Roots and Jimenez have attorneys available for comment. They did not bring criminal charges.

Ortiz called 911 on July 3, 2021, and told operators he was having a mental health crisis while he was housesitting at his mother’s apartment and his dog was missing. He told them he had been using marijuana and had chest pains. The operators noted that he sounded delusional and suicidal.

Ortiz took a shower to calm down. When paramedics arrived, he refused to come outside, so they called the police. Paramedics say Ortiz entered the hallway naked and became belligerent, threatening to kill himself. They say they were preventing him from jumping from the sixth-floor balcony when Roots and Jimenez arrived.

The security video has not been released, but the city showed it to Shkolnyk. He said Roots used his taser to subdue Ortiz, who was then handcuffed behind his back and placed naked on the floor. He was still struggling, but was not a danger to himself or the officers when they simply walked away and let him rest, Shkolnik said.

The elevator opened and Andrew stepped out. Roots tried to use his Taser on Ortiz again, but it failed to discharge.

In a misdemeanor lawsuit, Andrews, who has been an officer for more than 20 years, said he reached for a Taser but instead grabbed a gun and fired a single shot into Ortiz’s back. It happened about 10 seconds after the elevator doors opened, Shkolnik said.

“I honestly believed I had grabbed and discharged my Taser,” Andrews wrote.

Andrews’ stun gun, like most, was shaped like a pistol and had a similar handle and trigger. But it was also bright yellow, not black, a detail meant to serve as a visual warning to an officer in the heat of the moment.

Officers are trained to keep their firearms on their strong side and Tasers on their opposite hip. Andrews did it.

In a statement, Kroll said Andrews’ conduct may have been civilly negligent but was not criminal and asked that the charge be dropped. The judge did not rule.

There have been other cases where officers say they mistook their weapon for a taser and shot a suspect, sometimes fatally. Criminal charges are sometimes filed, but officers enjoy broad immunity when dealing with potentially dangerous suspects.

In 2021, a Minnesota officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in such a case. This also happened after the 2015 Oklahoma shooting. In 2009, a fatal shooting at a transit station in Oakland, California was the subject of the 2013 film Fruitvale Station. That officer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

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