Published On: Fri, Mar 3rd, 2023

Paralyzed man files suit after he was shot by officer who fired gun instead of Taser

A man who was paralyzed in 2021 when a Florida police officer shot him in the back with his service weapon instead of a stun gun has filed a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force and negligence.

Michael Ortiz, 43, was paralyzed from the waist down after he called 911 while experiencing a mental health crisis on July 3, 2021, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Image: Michael Ortiz
Michael Ortiz speaks at a news conference regarding a lawsuit against a police officer on March 1, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Marta Lavandier / AP

Fire department personnel arrived and found Ortiz naked after he had taken a shower to try to calm down, the suit said.

Ortiz “acted with erratic behavior and spoke incoherent and confusing words in Spanish,” the lawsuit said.

Three Hollywood police officers also responded. They had physical control of Ortiz, the lawsuit said. One used a stun gun at least twice, and a second officer shot a handcuffed Ortiz in the back, the suit said.

Ortiz was not committing a crime when he was shot with a stun gun and then a service weapon, the lawsuit said.

Hollywood police in February 2022 said that a review had determined the officer who opened fire intended to use his stun gun but shot his gun instead.

“The department recognizes this is an unfortunate incident and is doing what it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” the police said in a statement at the time.

Ortiz’s lawsuit states that because he was naked and unarmed, he did not reasonably pose a threat.

“Michael Ortiz needed a helping hand, but what he got was a bullet in the back,” attorney Ben Crump said during a news conference Wednesday, according to NBC Miami.

The lawsuit names as defendants the city of Hollywood, its police and fire departments, and officers Henry Andrews, Jhonny Jimenez and Diante Roots.

The suit accuses Andrews of shooting Ortiz in the back and states that Roots used a stun gun on the man.

A spokesperson for Hollywood police on Thursday declined to comment on the suit or incident.

The spokesperson said that Andrews is assigned to desk duty and Roots and Jimenez remain with the department.

A spokesperson with the city’s fire department also declined comment Thursday.

None of the officers named as defendants could be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

The lawsuit also alleged poor training and failure to intervene.

“The City of Hollywood Defendants have failed to properly train officers to identify persons who may be afflicted by a mental health crisis, and to properly take actions to deescalate potentially volatile encounters with persons in the public,” the suit said.

After the shooting, the police department said in a statement that Ortiz called 911 reporting chest pains, made suicidal comments and indicated he had taken narcotics.

Officials have said that Ortiz emerged from a sixth-floor apartment “naked, combative with the paramedics and visibly agitated.” Police have said that Ortiz told them he planned to jump from a balcony.

Ortiz, who is in a wheelchair, Wednesday that his mother is his caretaker and he feels like an infant because of his physical state, according to NBC Miami.

“My mom is taking care of her son who is more than 40 years old, and she’s treating me like I’m 6 months old, changing diapers,” he said.

Madelyn Urabe and Tim Stelloh contributed.

Source link

Most Popular News