HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Authorities have released new information regarding a story Local 10 News reported on Monday in which a man is suing the Hollywood Police Department over an encounter that left him paralyzed.
Michael Ortiz said he called 911 himself during a mental health crisis last July and ended up shot in the back by police.
According to authorities, Ortiz became combative, but his family said he was actually subdued.
Hollywood police released a statement on Tuesday in which they state an officer meant to use his taser but accidentally grabbed his gun.
The full statement can be read below:
On July 3rd, 2021, officers with the Hollywood Police Department were called to 5200 Hollywood Blvd to assist Hollywood Fire Rescue with a combative subject. The subject, later identified as 42-year-old year-old Michael Ortiz, 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 he refused to answer the door so Fire Rescue requested Hollywood Police respond with lights and sirens.
While Fire Rescue was waiting for the Police to arrive, Mr. Ortiz came out of a 6th floor apartment. He was naked, combative with the paramedics, and visibly agitated stating that he was going to jump from the 6th floor balcony.
When officers met up with Mr. Ortiz, paramedics were trying to gain control. An officer deployed his taser, and Mr. Ortiz was placed in restraints. As officers attempted to move him into the elevator to get him downstairs to the waiting stretcher and rescue vehicle outside, Mr. Ortiz used his legs to resist being placed inside the small elevator. As he continued to resist, an officer discharged his firearm, striking Mr. Ortiz once. Officers and Fire Rescue personnel moved Mr. Ortiz into the elevator, so that he could be taken downstairs for initial treatment and transported to the hospital.
The Hollywood Police Department notified the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) which responded to conduct an investigation. While the investigation is still active and ongoing, an initial review suggests the officer intended to deploy his taser, but instead discharged his firearm. The officer was immediately relieved of his duties as a sworn officer and is assigned to administrative tasks until the completion of the investigation. The Hollywood Police Department is fully cooperating with FDLE and providing additional information as the investigation continues. Once FDLE completes its investigation, the findings will be submitted to the State Attorney’s Office for review. The Hollywood Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit will also conduct an independent administrative investigation.
The day after the incident, the Hollywood Police Department issued a press release providing initial information to media outlets who asked for details about the shooting. On July 12th, 2021, the Hollywood Police Department received correspondence from the law firm of Morgan and Morgan, on behalf of Mr. Ortiz’s family, requesting the department preserve all evidence and records, which has been done. The firm also indicated they mailed a public records request to the general police headquarters address, bypassing the Public Records Request online web portal. There is no record of this physical letter being received by the Records Division. Morgan and Morgan has advised they are no longer representing Mr. Ortiz. No other public records requests concerning this matter had been received until Monday, February 7, 2022.
Following the incident, the Hollywood Police Department conducted a review of existing procedures, policies, and training. The Department recognizes this is an unfortunate incident and is doing what it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. 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.