A police officer in Florida was charged with a first-degree misdemeanor Friday in a 2021 service-weapon shooting that left a man paralyzed when he meant to use a stun gun, authorities said.
Henry Andrews, 49, an officer with Hollywood police, faces a charge of culpable negligence, inflicting actual personal injury, for the July 3, 2021, shooting of Michael Ortiz, according to a statement from Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail, the statement said.
Hollywood police were not immediately reached Friday afternoon.
Jermey Kroll, an attorney who is representing Andrews, said in a statement his client did not intentionally hurt Ortiz.
“Henry Andrews has been a dedicated public servant for 20 years. In responding to a difficult and chaotic situation, Officer Andrews intended to deploy his taser and mistakenly discharged his firearm. There was absolutely no intent to harm in this case,” Kroll said. “He and his family continue to have Mr. Ortiz in their thoughts and prayers.”
A review of the shooting earlier this year determined the officer who fired a gun and struck Ortiz in the back, meant to use a stun gun.
Ortiz called 911 reporting chest pains while making suicidal comments and saying he had taken narcotics, police said in a statement.
As he was waiting for police officers to arrive, Ortiz emerged from his sixth-floor apartment “naked, combative with the paramedics and visibly agitated,” authorities said, adding that Ortiz told them he planned to jump from a balcony.
They struggled, and an officer used a Taser on Ortiz before placing him in restraints, police said. As officers tried to move him into an elevator so he could be taken to a hospital, Ortiz resisted and an officer opened fire, according to police.
“An initial review suggests the officer intended to deploy his Taser, but instead discharged his firearm,” police said.
The officer, who was not identified in February when police released findings in the shooting, was placed on leave while state and local authorities investigated.
“The department recognizes this is an unfortunate incident and is doing what it can to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” the police statement from earlier this year said. “We empathize with Mr. Ortiz and his family and know they have many questions about that evening. Our hope is that once the investigation is complete, we will be able to meet with them and provide any additional information they are seeking.”
Pryor said Friday the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the shooting.
Andrews’ arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 31, prosecutors said.
Ortiz’s lawyers in February blasted the agency, saying their client “needed help from the Hollywood Police Department, but what they provided instead was a bullet in the back.”
Ortiz “was handcuffed, naked, on the ground, and posed no threat to the officer when he was shot in the back, resulting in his paralysis,” lawyers Benjamin Crump, Paul Napoli and Hunter Shkolnik said in a statement.
Ortiz’s shooting has drawn comparisons to a Minnesota case involving former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter, who said she meant to fire her stun gun when she fatally shot Daunte Wright, 20, with a Glock pistol on April 11, 2021.
Potter was convicted in December of first-degree manslaughter and other charges.