MIAMI (AP) — 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.
Tamarac City Commission Appoints Caribbean-American Morey Wright as Vice Mayor
TAMARAC, Fla. (December 15, 2023) – During the City of Tamarac’s Dec. 13, regular City Commission meeting, the Tamarac City Commission unanimously voted to appoint District 2 Commissioner, Morey Wright, as the City’s Vice Mayor.
Wright will serve as Vice Mayor for a one-year term, with the responsibility of acting as Mayor in the Mayor’s absence.
He was elected to the Tamarac City Commission in November 2022. During his time in office, he has represented the City of Tamarac as a voting delegate for the 97th Annual Florida League of Cities Conference. Wright also served as chair of the auditor selection committee.
“I’m honored to be appointed as Tamarac’s Vice Mayor,” said Wright. “I am excited to continue to work with the Commission, residents and community members to develop meaningful programs and initiatives that will positively impact Tamarac and ensure that our City remains a vibrant and thriving community for all.”
Born in the Virgin Islands to a Virgin Islander mother and a Jamaican father, Wright is a University of Florida alumnus who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He also earned two master’s degrees in business and government from Johns Hopkins University.
Professionally, Wright is an executive at a South Florida-based e-commerce company. He also owns a small business that consults on digital technology and marketing.
Inaugural Reggae Genealogy Concert Event Comes to Plantation, Florida
Plantation, Florida – On Saturday, February 10, 2024, in celebration of Reggae Month, the story of the Caribbean’s most prolific music genre will be presented to South Florida in a bold new way. The inaugural historical retrospective and concert event “Reggae Genealogy – The Origins, Evolution and Influence of Jamaican Music,” produced by Island SPACE Caribbean Museum, will be presented in the city of Plantation, Florida. A blend of entertainment and education, this event will showcase live performances including music and dance, archival video elements and contemporary narratives for a fully immersive experience. Reggae Genealogy will take place in the northeast parking lot of the Broward Mall.
The entire history of Jamaican music will find representation. Beloved icons who are no longer with us, such as Harry Belafonte, the first recording artist to sell a million records in the U.S., will speak to the audience in recorded video. Living legends like Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru, the first reggae band to win a Grammy, will make special guest appearances.
Reggae Genealogy event is presented in partnership with Broward Mall and the City of Plantation, and made possible in part by the support of the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Broward County Cultural Division, Grace Foods, Jamaica Tourist Board, Blue Mahoe Capital, the Beach Channel, Visit Lauderdale, Only the Best Printing and the following funds at the Community Foundation of Broward: Judith Cornfeld Fund for the Arts, Helen and Frank Stoykov Charitable Endowment Fund and The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation Broward Community Fund.
The three-hour showcase will trace the early beginnings of popular Jamaican music, prior to Jamaican independence from Britain in 1962, to the present, touching on mento, ska, Nyabinghi, rocksteady, lover’s rock, dub, reggae and dancehall. The showcase will also highlight the influence of Jamaican music on genres such as hip hop, reggaeton, EDM and Afrobeats.
To execute the inaugural staging of Reggae Genealogy, Island SPACE has assembled an experienced team of experts in reggae music history, event production and business. The team includes Lloyd Stanbury – one of the founders of Reggae Month and of the first Jamaican all-reggae radio station, IRIE FM, and Calibe Thompson and David I. Muir – the former producers of The Taste the Islands Experience culinary festival, and co-founders of Island SPACE. Other team members include authors, documentarians, television and video producers, radio personalities and choreographers.
The gates open at 3 p.m. with showtime at 6 p.m. Pre-sold tickets are $20 or $25 at the gate. Afternoon attendees can enjoy restaurant and artisan vendors and tours of Island SPACE Caribbean Museum inside the Broward Mall. Find tickets, general, sponsorship, vendor and volunteer information at www.reggaegenealogy.org
Island Society for the Promotion of Artistic and Cultural Education (Island SPACE) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of arts, culture, history, and educational initiatives that represent the Caribbean region, in South Florida and the broader diaspora. The public is invited to visit the Caribbean museum Thursdays through Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. General museum entry is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Visit www.islandspacefl.org to learn more.
Sen. Shevrin Jones, Rep. Dan Daley files Educator Certifications and Training Act
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Senator Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens) and Representative Dan Daley (D-Coral Springs) have announced the filing of SB 992 and HB 903. The bill, titled “An Act Relating to Educator Certifications and Training,” amends sections of Florida Statutes relating to educator preparation, certification, and ongoing training. Under this new legislation, educator training programs across the state will now be required to include comprehensive training focused on identifying, preventing, preparing for, addressing, and responding to mass casualty incidents.
The bill mandates revisions to core curricula for teacher preparation programs, necessitating the inclusion of strategies and practices specifically tailored for handling mass casualty incidents. This requirement extends to postsecondary educator preparation institutes, adjunct teaching certificates, and certified educator eligibility criteria. Additionally, the Department of Education has been tasked with developing a comprehensive list of approved trainings related to these incidents, which will be integrated into existing continuing education and in-service training requirements for instructional personnel, starting in the 2025-2026 school year.
“Keeping our students safe is, and always should be a top priority. While teachers receive on the job training, we want to make sure that those entering the career field have an in-depth understanding of how to prepare for, prevent, and if necessary, react to an active shooting situation,” stated Senator Shevrin Jones.
“It’s truly unfortunate that we have to train our teachers how to handle an active shooter situation, but in a post-Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School world, it’s a reality. HB 903 adds training requirements for future teachers as part of their education certification and will increase awareness, preparedness, and response to an active shooter situation. This bill is another step in the right direction to prevent tragedies like the one at my alma mater,” said Representative Dan Daley.
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