Attorney: Cop Arrested by Trooper Didn't Do Anything Criminal

Fausto Lopez’s attorney William Matthewman said his client will be exonerated

By Willard Shepard and Jeff Burnside
|  Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011  |  Updated 11:16 PM EDT
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The Miami Police Officer cited for reckless driving last week is on duty, and his attorney on Tuesday claimed he didn't do anything criminal.

The Miami Police Officer cited for reckless driving last week is on duty, and his attorney on Tuesday claimed he didn't do anything criminal.

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Cited Miami Police Officer Still On Duty

The Miami Police Officer cited for reckless driving last week is on duty, and his attorney on Tuesday claimed he didn't do anything criminal. A Florida Highway Patrol trooper said Officer Fausto Lopez changed lanes at more than 100 miles an hour before finally pulling over.

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The Miami Police Officer cited for reckless driving last week is on duty, and his attorney on Tuesday claimed he didn't do anything criminal.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper said Officer Fausto Lopez changed lanes at more than 100 miles an hour before finally pulling over.

Lopez told the trooper he was heading for a private school in Coconut Grove and thought he was going to be late. An NBC Miami investigation indicated Lopez may have violated the police department's own rules for off-duty work, though Miami police said their internal investigation prevents them from answering questions about any potential violation of work rules.

Lopez, who previously did a story with NBC Miami about keeping teens off the streets, told the trooper who stopped him at 6:30 a.m. that he had a 21-hour work day ahead of him.

The Miami Police Department rules for off-duty work, which NBC Miami obtained, state that members are prohibited from working more than 15 hours during one day. The 15 hour maximum will include a combined total of off-duty and on-duty working hours.

"The officer is sorry for what he did," said acting chief Manuel Orosa. "He did one dumb mistake and basically we are pursuing the administrative charges and waiting for his day in court."

Veteran police officers said that the FHP trooper could have handled the situation better.      

Lopez’s attorney William Matthewman said his client will be exonerated, and that he wasn't driving recklessly.

“He is a good police officer and a good guy,” he said. "He is, too, presumed innocent like everyone else. He also wants a fair shake. And that's all we're seeking here."

Matthewman also disputed that his Lopez was going 120 miles per hour, and he added that he hasn't seen elements of radar speed tracking or any scientific evidence that his client was doing what he has been accused of.

"There's been no evidence of reckless driving. There's been no evidence of 120 mph. And I think, really, this whole situation is something that's been blown completely out of proportion," he said.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said he sees the trooper involved in the incident as "someone who abused her power."

"Her actions were extremely reckless and unprofessional," Ortiz said. "If he broke the law, he should be held accountable, but the way she did it was completely uncalled for."

Parents at a private school in Coconut Grove reacted to the incident on Tuesday.

"It's not a good example," school parent Carmen Latimer said. "He's 16. He's not diving yet because of that, because there are a lot of people that are driving like crazy. We are holding him back and now a police officer is driving like crazy."

"It doesn't set a very good example," said school grandparent Mike Kopecsik. "A lot of these young ladies are just learning to drive and you see someone driving like that -- a police officer has your respect and he's not doing a good job."

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