HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — A South Florida family is searching for answers after their loved one was shot in the back by police in Broward County last summer, leaving him paralyzed.
Michael Ortiz, 42, who was in a wheelchair, held a joint news conference Monday with high-profile civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump.
The incident happened July 3, 2021, when officers with the Hollywood Police Department were called to an apartment regarding a combative subject.
Police said that Ortiz had called 911 reporting chest pains, ingestion of narcotics and, according to the fire rescue call log, was making delusional and suicidal statements.
When Hollywood Fire Rescue arrived, police said Ortiz refused to answer the door so personnel requested that officers respond.
Police said while fire rescue personnel were waiting for the police to arrive, Ortiz came out of a sixth-floor apartment. Officials said he was naked, combative with the paramedics and saying he was going to jump from the balcony.
An officer arrived and deployed his Taser, and Ortiz was placed in restraints.
Police said when officers attempted to move him into an elevator to get him downstairs to a rescue vehicle, Ortiz used his legs to resist being placed inside the small elevator.
As he continued to resist, police said an officer discharged his firearm, striking Ortiz once.
Officers and fire rescue personnel moved Ortiz into the elevator so that he could be taken downstairs for initial treatment and transported to the hospital.
While the investigation is still active and ongoing, police said an initial review suggests the officer intended to deploy his Taser but instead discharged his firearm.
Police said the officer, whose name has not been released, has been assigned to administrative tasks until the completion of the investigation.
During Monday’s news conference, Crump called the incident a “tragedy” and said police used unnecessary force on Ortiz while he was having a mental health crisis.
“Mr. Ortiz doesn’t remember what happened,” Crump said.
Crump and his attorney filed a public records lawsuit against the Hollywood Police Department to release video from the building that they believe will show exactly what happened.
Crump said Ortiz was naked, handcuffed and face down when he was shot.
“We are not going to let it be swept under the rug,” Crump said. “We are not going to let them continue to delay justice.”
Crump said the current medical diagnosis indicates that Ortiz will never walk again.
The Hollywood Police Department notified the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the conduct.
The Hollywood Police Department said they will also conduct an independent investigation into the shooting.
“The Department recognizes this is an unfortunate incident and is doing what it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” the Hollywood Police Department said in a statement released Tuesday. “We empathize with Mr. Ortiz and his family and know they have many questions about that evening. Our hope is that once the investigation is complete, we will be able to meet with them and provide any additional information they are seeking.”