Two former South Florida police officers turned themselves in Thursday morning to face felony charges over the beating of a homeless man who had been drinking outside a shopping center last month, officials said.
Lorenzo Orfila, 27, and Rafael Otano, 22, were booked into jail on Thursday morning in Miami. They were each charged with kidnapping and battery, and Orfila was also charged with official misconduct, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said during a news conference.
She said the officers were dispatched to the shopping center on the afternoon of Dec. 17 regarding a homeless man who was known to frequent the area. They handcuffed the man, put him in a patrol car and drove to a remote location several miles away.
“There he was taken out of the marked car and while handcuffed, he was allegedly beaten and thrown to the ground by the officers,” Fernandez Rundle said.
The man later told investigators that he was left there, unconscious and unhandcuffed. He began walking and was spotted by an off-duty Hialeah police officer who was walking his dog, Fernandez Rundle said. That officer called 911.
She said that through surveillance video taken from the shopping center investigators were not able to identify “any violations that would have prompted or justified taking him into custody.”
Some 12 days into the investigation, detectives learned that a civilian had approached the victim and offered him $1,200 to recant his original statement. The victim later told detectives that he took the money “because he’s homeless and he’s unemployed” and said that his original statement was correct, Fernandez Rundle said.
The civilian was charged with witness tampering.
Hialeah police Chief George Funete said the behavior “will not be tolerated,” adding that both officers were removed from their patrol duties after the incident was reported, and then fired once the investigation was completed.
It was not immediately known whether Orfila and Otano have retained lawyers who can speak on their behalf.