After more than a year on paid suspension pending an investigation by an outside law-enforcement agency, controversial Miami Police Department (MPD) Capt. Javier Ortiz will return to duty this week.
New Times confirmed with Ortiz’s attorney, Robert Buschel, that Ortiz will begin working this week after spending 13 months on paid administrative leave. Buschel says Ortiz was “fully exonerated” and reinstated today.
MPD spokesperson Kenia Fallat says Ortiz must complete a few departmental procedures before he puts his uniform back on.
“Captain Javier Ortiz has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoings,” she said in an email. “We are currently in the process of reincorporating him back to full-duty status. There are a series of protocols he must adhere to per our policy, such as in-service trainings, etc. before he returns back to full-duty uniform status. “
Reached by New Times via text message, Ortiz thanked his supporters.
“I want to thank God, my wonderful counsel at Buschel & Gibbons Law Firm, Director Al Palacio and South Florida PBA President Steadman Stahl for their unwavering support,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz was relieved of duty with pay in January 2020 after reports that he, a white Hispanic man, had claimed to be a Black man on two promotional exams. Ortiz explained at a city commission meeting that he was a “Black male or a Negro” under the “one-drop rule,” an antiquated, racist principle implying that anyone with the slightest bit of African ancestry should be considered Black. New Times reported in November that the MPD never investigated Ortiz for those claims, and he received no discipline.
MPD Chief Jorge Colina, who has announced his plan to retire as soon as city leaders hire a new police chief, had said Ortiz was suspended not because of the assertions about his race but because he was being investigated by an outside law enforcement agency. It’s unclear whether that investigation has come to a close.
Colina did not answer several phone calls, a voicemail, and a text message from New Times seeking comment.
New Times has requested more information from the MPD about Ortiz’s reinstatement and the status of the outside investigation.