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Florida officers charged with battery after allegedly beating homeless man

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Two Florida police officers are facing armed kidnapping and battery charges for allegedly assaulting a homeless man after handcuffing him for no reason and taking him to an “isolated” location where they knocked him unconscious.

The news has emerged as America grapples with a reckoning over abusive policing in the US following the beating of Tire Nichols to death in Memphis, Tennessee. Video of the 29-year-old black motorist being punched shocked the US and the world when it was released on Friday. Five officers have been charged with murder.

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Now Florida prosecutors say officers Rafael Otano and Lorenzo Orfila from the city of Hialeah, Miami-Dade county, handcuffed 50-year-old Jose Ortega Gutierrez, a homeless man known to the area, on Dec. 17. Surveillance cameras in the area showed no behavior by Gutierrez that would warrant an arrest.

The officers then took him to a “dark” and “isolated” spot six miles away, detonating their emergency lights along the way. They allegedly threw Gutierrez to the ground and beat him. He later awoke without shackles, bleeding from his head.

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He was eventually able to find help through an off-duty police officer who walked his dog and called 911 for him.

Orfila reportedly called one of the responding officers to ask about Gutierrez’s condition and asked him to record the 911 call as “no report.”

The incident quickly led to an internal investigation.

A few days later, 45-year-old Ali Amin Saleh allegedly approached Gutierrez and offered him $1,200, persuading him to sign an affidavit claiming that the officers had not assaulted him.

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Gutierrez, who cannot read and was unaware of what the statement said, said he signed the paper because he needed the money.

Saleh was accused of tampering with the victim. Orfila, who handcuffed Gutierrez, was also charged with official misconduct.

The charges were announced Thursday by Miami-Dade state attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, who condemned their actions, saying “We will not allow rogue police officers to abuse their powers and betray the public they serve.”

The officers were fired Thursday and taken to Miami-Dade jail. A judge denied their bail.



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