A controversial Miami cop was suspended with pay after he argued at a Miami City Commission meeting last week that he identifies as a black male, despite his Caucasian complexion.
“We can confirm that Captain J. Ortiz has been relieved of duty with pay,” city spokesperson Michael Vega wrote in an email to the Miami New Times.
Vega would not divulge why he benched the former chief of the local Fraternal Order of Police, but Ortiz’s recent public comments to the commission, coupled with a lengthy history of controversy, leaves little to the imagination.
Ortiz faced criticism for identifying as a black man on lieutenant and captain exams for quicker promotions, and he came to the commission last Friday to defend his actions.
“I’m a black male,” he told commissioners to sneers from the crowd. “Yes I am.”
Ortiz appears white, but he argued race isn’t about appearances.
“I am not Hispanic. I was born in this country,” he said. “That’s how I feel.”
Chairman Keon Hardemon pressed for answers.
“I have a question for you,” he said. “So you classify yourself today as a black male?”
“Yes,” Ortiz said.
“When you applied for the police department, did you classify yourself as a black male or a white male at the time?” Hardemon questioned.
“I think I put white male,” Ortiz said. “Well, I know I put white male, but I don’t know if I put Hispanic.
“Listen, I know who I am but it’s also …”
Commissioner Joe Carollo cut in: “You put down Hispanic male.”
“Okay, as a man I stand by it,” Ortiz said.
“When did you have this, uh, you know, uh, coming to with God moment that you were black?” Carollo pressed. “When did God tell you that?”
“Well, I learned that there’s some people in my family that are mixed and that are black,” Ortiz said.
“I see,” Carollo said.
“Let’s not talk about the degree of blackness,” Hardemon said.
“Oh, no, you’re blacker than me, that’s obvious,” Ortiz said. “And if you know anything about the one-drop rule, which started in the 20th century, which is what identifies and defines … what a black male is, or a negro, you would know that if you have one drop of black in you, you are considered black.
“You are probably black too, Joe,” Ortiz told Carollo.
He also alleged “half of my family is Jewish, you probably didn’t know that either.”
Commissioners dismissed Ortiz after his 5 minutes of public comment expired, and Carollo offered his assessment.
“Mr. Ortiz claims that he’s, uh, black. Now we hear Jewish black,” he said. “I’m afraid maybe next month it will be, you know, a black Jewish woman. I don’t know.”
Ortiz’s comments ignited a firestorm of controversy and many local black leaders are now calling on the city to terminate his employment. The stunt is only Ortiz’s latest clash with the black community and the police department, where he’s racked up numerous investigations, complaints and suspensions for bad behavior, WPLG reports.
According to the New Times:
Ortiz is far and away the most controversial cop in Miami: As the former head of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police from 2011 to 2017, he fought police oversight at every turn, praised Donald Trump constantly, and spent his free time on Twitter defending cops who’ve killed black people. He once drew demonic eyes and teeth on a mugshot of a black defendant. He also infamously tried to start a nationwide Beyonce boycott after claiming her 2016 Super Bowl performance was anti-police. (The boycott didn’t take off, clearly.) He’s tweeted to support the officers around the country who’ve shot and killed Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, and, most insanely, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, whom he called a “thug.”
Ortiz has also repeatedly been accused of falsely arresting black people, including NFL players Jonathan Vilma and Robby Anderson. NBC Miami last year also reported that the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office is investigating whether Ortiz’s apparent abuse of the city’s off-duty work rules violated the law. Ortiz was also accused of fabricating an arrest report
Ortiz nearly lost his job in 2017 after he doxxed a police critic who’d complained about an officer driving at dangerously high speeds. Ortiz posted the woman’s personal contact information online — the woman, Claudia Castillo, then obtained a temporary restraining order against Ortiz. Ortiz was then taken off of the street until a judge lifted the stay-away order.
“He’s had over 50 investigations for the CIP, which is the police oversight committee,” Miami-Dade County NAACP President Ruban Roberts told WPLG. “He’s had over 14 internal investigations. He’s been suspended. He has harassed people in the community.”
“For him to make the assertion that he’s black and not Hispanic, is an outright lie and as a law enforcement officer he should be standing for truth and representing truth,” Roberts said.
Sgt. Stanley Jean-Poix, president of the Miami Community Police Benevolent Association representing 300 black officers, is equally unimpressed.
“Black officers are underrepresented as lieutenants and he knew that and lied to get a promotion,” Jean-Poix said. “We’re insulted and it’s disrespectful to the black officers of the police department.”