2 Hialeah Police Officers Accused of Kidnapping and Beating Homeless Man

Two Hialeah Police Department officers are facing charges after authorities said they kidnapped and beat a homeless man.

The officers, 27-year-old Rafael Otano and 22-year-old Lorenzo Orfila, turned themselves in to authorities and were booked into the Miami-Dade jail around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, records showed.

Miami-Dade Corrections

Lorenzo Orfila, Rafael Otano

The officers are charged with armed kidnapping and battery, and Orfila is also charged with official misconduct, records showed.

A civilian, 45-year-old Ali Amin Saleh, was also arrested in connection with the case for allegedly tampering with the victim, Fernandez Rundle said.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced the charges during a Thursday afternoon news conference, where she was joined by Hialeah Police Chief George Fuente.

“None of us here today will ever accept the actions that we have outlined here today. We will not allow rogue police officers to abuse their powers and to betray the public that they serve,” Fernandez Rundle said.

Fernandez Rundle said the charges stem from a incident on Dec. 17 when the officers responded to a disturbance call at a shopping plaza on W. 60th Street.

The officers encountered Jose Ortega-Gutierrez, who is well known to police as a homeless man who frequents the area, Fernandez Rundle said.

Ortega-Gutierrez was placed in handcuffs and put in the back of a Hialeah Police car, despite surveillance footage from the scene not showing a reason for him to be taken into custody, Fernandez Rundle said.

Instead of being taken to jail as is the normal procedure, the officers took Ortega-Gutierrez to an isolated location where he was beaten and thrown to the ground while still handcuffed, Fernandez Rundle said.

Ortega-Gutierrez said he lost consciousness and woke up unhandcuffed, alone and bleeding from his head. He started walking and happened to come across an off-duty Hialeah Police officer who was walking his dog and called 911 for him.

He told police what had happened to him and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

One of the officers who responded to the scene was contacted by Orfila who inquired about Ortega-Gutierrez’s condition and asked the officer to classify the 911 call as “no report,” Fernandez Rundle said.

Orfila also told the officer that they had dropped Ortega-Gutierrez off and “roughed him up,” Fernandez Rundle said.

Investigators discovered that GPS on their police vehicles showed Otano and Orfila were outside their assigned sector that day, Fernandez Rundle said. Neither had his body worn camera turned on during the encounter, Fernandez Rundle added.

Days after the incident, Ortega-Gutierrez said he was approached by Saleh, who he said identified himself as a private investigators and offered him $1,200 in cash to sign an affidavit that he had been arrested for drinking and hadn’t been beaten by the officers, Fernandez Rundle said.

Ortega-Gutierrez said he doesn’t know how to read and didn’t know what was in the affidavit but signed it and took the money because he’s homeless, Fernandez Rundle said.

Fuente said both officers had been fired by the mayor Thursday morning.

Check back with NBC 6 for updates.