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Police officers have been relieved for reportedly bringing a homeless man at a location and then beating him up while handcuffed. diegoparra/Pixabay


  • The Florida officers allegedly handcuffed a homeless man and drove him to an isolated area where they beat him
  • The Hialeah city officers have since been fired
  • A third suspect was charged after allegedly offering the victim money to withhold his testimony

Two now-former south Florida police officers have been charged with allegedly handcuffing, kidnapping and assaulting a homeless man last month, according to prosecutors.

The cops were identified as Hialeah city officers Rafael Otano, 27, and Lorenzo Ofila, 22, ABC News reported. They have since been fired from the Hialeah Police Department.

According to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, the incident occurred when Otano and Ofila were responding to a disturbance at a bakery shortly after 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2022.

While responding to the call, the two encountered a 50-year-old homeless man identified as Jose Ortega Gutierrez, who regularly roamed the area and was known to the officers.

According to Rundle, Ofila allegedly handcuffed Ortega Gutierrez and put him in the back of his marked police car.

Surveillance footage from the area did not provide any evidence that supported detaining Ortega Gutierrez, the state attorney said at a news conference.

Instead of booking Ortega Gutierrez into jail, the two police officers allegedly drove him six miles to "an isolated and dark location, against his will," Rundle added.

When they reached their destination, the still-handcuffed Ortega Gutierrez was allegedly thrown to the ground by the officers and given a beating, according to the state attorney.

The victim later testified that he woke up alone, bleeding from the head and no longer handcuffed.

As Ortega Gutierrez was walking back, an off-duty Hialeah officer spotted him and called 911, as was described during a press conference. It was after this that an internal investigation was initiated.

A third suspect identified as Ali Amin Saleh was arrested in connection with the incident.

Prosecutors alleged that Saleh tried to provide cover to Ofila and Otano by offering Ortega Gutierrez money to withhold his testimony about what was allegedly done to him.

The victim told investigators that Saleh allegedly offered him more than $1,000 and pressured him to sign an affidavit that stated the two officers did not assault him, even though he cannot read, according to the state attorney.

Ofila and Otano were each charged with armed kidnapping and one count of battery. Ofila was also charged with official misconduct.

Armed kidnapping could bring a penalty of life in prison.

Saleh was charged with one count of witness tampering.

"There's been a horrible miscarriage of justice," Michael Pizzi, Otano's attorney, said via WPLG. "This case will be tried in a court of law and at the end of the day, it is our expectation that Mr. Otano will be exonerated and get his job back."

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Two former Hialeah police officers are facing assault and kidnapping charges on a 50-year-old homeless man in Miami-Dade county. VBlock/Pixabay