Two Florida police officers face armed kidnapping and battery charges allegedly attacked a homeless person after he was handcuffed without reason and taken to an “isolated” place where he was beaten until he lost consciousness.
The news comes as America grapples with a retribution for police abuse in the US following the beating to death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee. Video of the beating of a 29-year-old black motorist shocked the US and the world when it was released on Friday. Five officers are charged with his murder.
now Florida Prosecutors say that on Dec. 17, officers Rafael Otano and Lorenzo Arfilo of Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, handcuffed 50-year-old Jose Ortega Gutierrez, a homeless man known in the area. There are no surveillance cameras in the surrounding area show any conduct on the part of Gutierrez that would warrant arrest.
Officers then drove him to a “dark” and “isolated” location six miles away, turning on emergency lights along the way. They allegedly knocked Gutierrez to the ground and beat him. Later he woke up without shackles, with blood on his head.
He was eventually able to find help through a police officer who was walking his dog and called 911.
Arfilo reportedly called one of the responding officers to ask about Gutierrez’s condition and asked him to record the 911 call as “no message.”
The incident soon led to an internal investigation.
A few days later, 45-year-old Ali Amin Saleh allegedly approached Gutierrez and offered him $1,200, persuading him to sign an affidavit stating that the officers did not assault him.
Gutierrez, who cannot read and was not informed of what was in the statement, said he signed the paper because he needed the money.
Saleh was charged with manipulation of the victim. Arfilo, who handcuffed Gutierrez, was also charged with official misconduct.
The charges were announced Thursday by Miami-Dade State Attorney Catherine Fernandez Rundle, who condemned their actions and said, “We will not allow rogue police officers to abuse their authority and betray the public they serve.”
The officers were fired Thursday and booked into the Miami-Dade Jail. The judge denied them bail.