MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Three officers from different police departments are facing charges in three cases after investigations by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement revealed wrongdoing, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Fernandez Rundle identified the police officers as Jaiver Castano, formerly of the Miami Gardens Police Department; Capt. Sergio Perez, with the Opa-locka Police Department, and Miami-Dade Officer Joseph Diaz.
“Two of these cases have video from police body-worn cameras,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Castano and Perez are facing misdemeanor battery charges. Diaz is facing charges of official misconduct and battery.
Officer kicks restrained man’s head, pushes knee on neck
Castano was among a group of Miami Gardens police officers who responded to a complaint about a driver who was doing donuts March 2020 in the parking lot of the RaceTrac gas station, at 19100 NW 2nd Ave.
Video shows Castano, 40, kicked Miguel McKay, the suspect’s friend, in the face and placed his knee on his neck, Fernandez Rundle said.
“McCay was on his back, he was surrounded by police officers,” said Fernandez Rundle. “He was offering no resistance.”
McCay told Local 10 News that he is relieved.
“Justice was served,” he said.
Miami Gardens Police Chief Delma Noel-Pratt announced in June 2020 that she had decided to terminate two police officers who were under investigation by the FDLE. One was Castano and the other was an officer who was accused of not downloading his bodycam footage, which is a requirement after every shift, police said.
Read the excerpts from the arrest form
Officer lies on arrest affidavit, prosecutors say
On July 25, 2020, Diaz responded to a report about an intoxicated man who was loitering outside of the Country Club Towers Apartments, at 6790 NW 186 St.
Diaz later identified the suspect as Kenny Ortega. Police body cam video shows Diaz had a polite conversation with Ortega at first, but just as Ortega was walking away he insulted Diaz.
“Tell me what you just said to my face,” Diaz said.
Diaz ordered Ortega, 28, to put his hands behind his back and get on the ground. Ortega didn’t comply. Fernandez Rundle said Diaz grabbed Ortega’s shoulder and pushed and shoved him during the arrest.
“Officer Diaz signs and then files an arrest affidavit charging Ortega with disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer without violence … Many of the sworn statements are false,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Diaz falsely alleged Ortega was excessively aggressive, screaming at the top of his lungs, stumbled into the road, and took an aggressive stance, Fernandez Rundle said.
Officer injures colleague, prosecutors say
Fernandez Rundle said Capt. Perez, 35, tased Sgt. Michael Steel in the back right side area on September 2021.
The FDLE started the investigation after receiving an anonymous tip
“This incident did not occur pursuant to any Tasing certification training. This has nothing to do with something happening during training,” Fernandez Rundle said.
There was an argument, Steel was in his office and he was not wearing a protective suit, so he was visibly wounded, Fernandez Rundle said.