MIAMI — A court has sentenced ex-Hialeah Police Officer Rafael Otano to over 60 months in prison and 5 years of probation after he was found guilty of kidnapping a homeless man in August.
Rafael Otano, 28, will be serving a 66-month-long sentence in state prison, followed by 5 years of probation, the court announced on Wednesday.
Otano was one of two Hialeah Police Department officers who were accused of beating up a homeless man and then trying to cover up their actions. He had been a member of the force for three years before he was terminated from the job.
Otano and Lorenzo Orfila — a 23-year-old officer and five-year member of Hialeah Police — were arrested after they allegedly responded to a nuisance call on Dec. 17, 2022, about a man said to be harassing businesses and patrons at a Hialeah shopping plaza.
That man — identified as Jose Ortega Gutierrez, 51 — was taken into custody and instead of being transported to county jail, prosecutors said Otano and Orfila took him to a dump site before beating him up and abandoning him.
An off-duty police detective just happened to cross paths in the detective's north Hialeah neighborhood with Gutierrez several hours after the incident and called the police.
"He had a cut or laceration on top of his head," said the detective, testifying with a condition that he not be publicly identified. "His face looked swollen and bruised. His clothes looked torn and he appeared intoxicated."
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released the following statement regarding Otano's sentencing:
"Today's sentencing of former Hialeah Police Officer Rafael Otano marks a sad day for the Hialeah Police Department and for the entire Miami-Dade law enforcement community. When the jury convicted Otano of the armed kidnapping of a homeless man intended to' teach him a lesson', it sent out the strongest message possible that this community is a community of laws which govern us all."
"Our police officers, who spend every day protecting our community, all understand that one cannot uphold the values of our laws while engaged in actions which violate the law itself."
Meanwhile, Hialeah Police Chief Goerge Fuente had this to say, "Today the justice system spoke and sent a clear message; one that we stand firm by. The law enforcement community must hold itself accountable and to a higher standard and any officer that violates the public's trust will face the ramifications of their actions."
"Let me be very clear; the actions that Mr. Otano was found guilty of, do not reflect the men and women of the Hialeah Police Department."
"The men and women of this agency are dedicated and devoted officers, that continue to protect and serve this city with the respect and loyalty it so greatly deserves."
- Police Officers
- Hialeah Police
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