A Miami Police Department captain and former union boss who was probed by state law enforcement and the FBI for a pattern of abuse and bias against Black people has been sued by a fellow sergeant for allegedly upending the man’s career.
Edwin Gomez, a 23-year veteran of the Miami Police Department, claims in his Monday lawsuit—a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Beast—that he participated in a racial discrimination investigation filed against Javier Ortiz in Jan. 2020. As part of the investigation, which included the testimony of two other officers, Gomez said he testified about how Ortiz regularly engaged in “outrageous acts of despicable discrimination” against Black citizens, women, and other minority groups, the lawsuit states.
At the time of the investigation, Ortiz was the president of Miami’s Fraternal Order of Police union, and the suit indicates that Gomez called for Ortiz’s ouster. This past January, Ortiz lost a re-election bid in the race for FOP president.
Gomez’s testimony was included in a 50-page report issued by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement this past March that reviewed lawsuits and complaints against Ortiz and interviewed witnesses, including officers and citizens, as The Miami Herald reported. The report found that Ortiz’s history pointed to “a pattern of abuse and bias against minorities, particularly African-Americans.”
The report also said Ortiz—who once claimed that he is Black and not Hispanic because of the “one-drop rule” that stems from America’s Jim Crow past—was known to cyber-stalk and dox civilians who complained about him.
Ortiz’s comments about his racial identity were made after he came under fire for allegedly mocking a push to hire more Black officers by checking a box claiming to be Black when he applied for his own promotion, The Washington Post reported.
According to the Herald, The FDLE referred their probe to the FBI for possible criminal civil rights charges. However, an investigation into Ortiz by the FBI was dropped in February and he has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the probe.
Ortiz’s attorney at the time blamed the probe on rival officers in the department and claimed that for each complaint, Ortiz was cleared of wrongdoing.
Ortiz’s skating of serious repercussions was detailed in the FDLE report. Although he’d been the subject of numerous internal affairs investigations, more than 60 excessive force complaints, and lawsuits with pricey settlements, investigators with the state agency suspected he was “shown favoritism.” They also suggested probes were drawn out so that he could not be disciplined, as the Herald reported.
Nonetheless, Ortiz had been suspended on paid leave during the probe into his misconduct. After 13 months, he was reinstated in February. Ortiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. Gomez also did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
According to Gomez’s suit, almost immediately after his testimony against Ortiz in 2020, he began to be harassed publicly by the problem cop. This allegedly included being called a “coward” multiple times in front of other officers.
To this day, the suit claims, Ortiz makes Gomez’s life in the department “a living hell.”
Among other things, Gomez alleges the police department turned its back on him and stripped away overtime work and promotion opportunities. He also alleges he was suspended for an unknown reason, among other claims.
Gomez’s suit called the actions on the part of the Police Department and the City of Miami “illegal retaliation.” The Miami Police Department and the City of Miami did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The accusations come amid recent drama consuming the city and police department, in which Chief Art Acevedo was ousted after six months on the job after calling out city commissioners for corruption. Acevedo later said he was abandoned despite coming into the job with a reform mandate.
In a July interview with The Miami New Times, Acevedo said he was aware of Ortiz and his ability to evade termination during his 17-year career with the police department.
"Sooner or later there’s gonna be something that will stick, and his career is going to come to a screeching halt,” Acevedo told the paper.