The officer who shot a man — who had called 911 for help — and paralyzed him meant to use his taser, the Hollywood Police Department said about the shooting last summer.
Michael Ortiz was having a panic attack at his Hollywood home on July 3, 2021, and called 911 for help. Hollywood Police responded, and instead of aiding him after he was already lying on the floor and handcuffed, an officer shot him in the back — paralyzing him from the waist down.
“It’s almost like going back to birth because I have to learn how to go to the bathroom. I have to learn how to get out of my bed,” Ortiz said in a news conference Monday.
The Ortiz family and their lawyers announced they were going to court in an effort to get the surveillance video from the cameras at the building. They believe the footage could show the officers' response and that the video will show if police used excessive and unnecessary force.
“So, just to that police officer why, why you had the need to shoot me? Why there were six grown people and they can’t put me down, cuff me and that’s it, but then they had to use violence,” Ortiz had told NBC 6.
Late Tuesday night, the Hollywood Police Department sent out a detailed statement saying in part that Ortiz was ”…naked, combative…stating he was going to jump from the 6th-floor balcony. An officer deployed his taser and Mr. Ortiz was placed in restraints…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….and initial review suggests the officer intended to deploy his taser, but instead discharged his firearm."
The department says the officer was quickly taken off law enforcement duties and placed in an administrative position while they and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate.
“This is just an excuse to try to justify an unjustifiable act of shooting a man who was face down, stark naked, in handcuffs in the back and paralyzing him," said Benjamin Crump, one of Ortiz's lawyers. "They don’t need to say anymore. Just show the video."
NBC 6 shared the family's allegations and the police department statement with retired Los Angeles Senior Detective Supervisor Timothy Williams Jr. for his analysis.
“You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings. You’ve got to call upon your training,” Williams said. “Shooting in that close quarters, you could have shot the paramedics. If there were other officers in that elevator, they also could have been shot. And in my opinion, in my 48 years ... being in this business of criminal justice, that’s hard to explain."
Hollywood Police say they conducted a complete review of all their policies and training to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Florida law allows them to keep the video confidential while the investigation is underway. Police said they empathize with the family and when the investigation is over, they will do their best to answer all the family's questions, which would include showing the video when it becomes public record.