Mia. Police Chief Calls High Speed Chase “A Knuckle-Headed” Mistake

MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami’s interim top cop is downplaying criminal charges brought against one of his officers who led a state trooper on a high speed chase captured on camera.

“He made one dumb mistake,” Chief Manuel Orosa replied when CBS4’s Gary Nelson inquired why Officer Fausto Lopez remains on regular duty, despite being charged with criminal reckless driving.

The charge carries fines and even possible jail time if the officer is convicted.

“We are investigating the matter and will take the appropriate action,” Orosa said on Monday.

On the morning of October 11th, a state trooper fell in behind Lopez as he hurtled southbound on the Florida Turnpike near Sunrise.

“He’s doing well over 120 (mph), and he’s not stopping,” Trooper D.J. Watts said over her police radio, the sound of her siren wailing in the background.

On her dashboard camera, the Miami officer could be seen weaving in and out of traffic, blowing past other vehicles almost as if they were standing still.

After seven long minutes, the trooper finally got the police car to pull over. She emerged from her squad car, pulling her pistol and aiming it at the driver’s side of the Miami police vehicle.

“Put your hands out that window right now!” the trooper shouted. “Put your hands out the window!”

FHP Sergeant Mark Wysocky told CBS4 News on Monday that the trooper behaved appropriately in pulling her weapon, not knowing whether she might be stopping a violent felon who could have carjacked a police officer’s vehicle.

“She didn’t know what she was dealing with,” Wysocky said. “She thought the vehicle might have been stolen.”

The FHP report of the incident quotes Officer Lopez as saying he was hurrying because he was a late for a moonlighting job – an off duty gig – in Hollywood.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado was livid after seeing the video of the incident and the police officer’s behavior.

“This is a moral indictment of an officer, and maybe officers, that believe they can be above the law,” Regalado told CBS4 News. “You and I would be in very serious trouble if we endangered the public this way.”

The story, first reported Friday by CBS4’s Spanish language broadcast partner WLTV Channel 23, gained growing reaction Monday as Miami’s police chief swore in a class of 13 new recruits.

What kind of example does the Lopez case and the department’s reaction to it set for the new officers who joined the force Monday?

Chief Orosa replied only that he hopes the recruits “don’t make the same kind of mistake.”

More from Gary Nelson
  • John Koontz

    OBVIOUSLY, the ‘acting Chief’ or ‘interim Chief’ is NOT QUALIFIED for the top job if he thinks this was simply a mistake on the part of the off duty cop. This was the act of an arrogant, ignorant, out-of-control maniac, who, as the Mayor said, believed he was above the law. He must be terminated, the “Chief” must be demoted, and the Department must be brought under control!!!

    • J. Rod

      I agree, He obviously feels that his department is “above the law”. He should be commendind Trooper D.J. Watts for taking her job seriously. Too many times it occurs that the police attempt to “flex their muscle” just because. When its time to vote, remember this!

  • Tony Gugino

    Unfortunately this will be blown out of porportion. The FHP officer acted correctly. But the Miami officer deserves a ticket and nothing more.

    • Sheila Rodriguez

      Why does he deserve only a ticket? Any civilian would be arrested. Cops don’t deserve special attention. You are either a cop or related to one.

    • Jakie

      Only a ticket? Why not just let ’em off completely ??? He led the trooper on a high speed chase that could have killed somebody, but a ticket should be enough? Most law abiding citizens would have stopped as soon as they saw the lights and siren behind them, this guy went on for another seven minutes, how far can you go in that time doing a hundred miles an hour …

  • Block Head

    How do you expect the rank and file to take their jobs seriously when their boss laughs it off? What a idiot….

  • hector

    he sould be firer because he known the law and that go for very body
    who thing they above the law of the land

  • tincup

    Mr. Tony Gugino
    I have a different opinion. That officer is probably a friend of yours.
    Mr. Gugino that officer needs to do jail time, the same as it was me
    doing 120 mph on the turnpike.
    It’s NOT blown out of proportions, FRIEND!.

    • Tony Gugino

      Actualay I don’t know either of them. Nor am I in Florida. I just believe that he should not be treated any differently from any other citizen.


    Next time i’m caught going 120 mph I’ll just laugh it off and call myself a “knucklehead” and I’ll be on my way. Good job FHP

  • bobbyb

    What would have happened if he had hit an killed someone ? Also, he was driving a Miami Police car – out of Miami. He was using it for his personal use at this point. The public was paying for the use of the car and for the gas. If this is an example of the judgement exercised by City of Miami Police — something is wrong.

    • Mari

      I would love to know why he was driving his City of Miami police car to an off-duty job in Broward. Should he not have been in his personal vehicle???
      The FHP officer did the right thing!!! It is officers like him that give a bad name to all the good cops out there!!

  • tincup

    Mr. Gugino,
    Please , please , tell me you are not serious, when you made such a comment,
    I know you are a smart person.

  • Horatio

    The Miami officer was in the wrong for speeding, but the FHP trooper also violated her department’s chase policy. FHP is not allowed to chase because it did not meet the criteria. Her officer safety was embarrassing. She is lucky the Miami officer did not resist when she took his gun out his holester.

    She should be disciplined for violating the her department’s policy, her poor officer safety, and insubordination for not obeying her supervisor’s order to cancel the pursuit.

    CBS should investigate her personnel file. I imagine that this is not the first time that this trooper has diplayed poor judgement.

    • Lizabeth

      Ofc Watts had no reason to believe it was a police ofc driving that car. For all she knew, it was someone who had stolen the police car (which contains weapons locked in the trunk and/or under the seat) and might possibly have injured and/or killed the officer the car belonged to. She should honored for her actions. I would investigate her supervisor for his decision, without contacting Miami Police Department regarding why their ofc was driving OUT of Miami at high speed w/o lights and siren despite weaving in and out of traffic.

  • Luis bonilla

    Great job trooper!. you proved to be among the few descent ones left.

  • Izzy

    This guy is still working, helllo, Miami is a Banana Republic!!!!

  • Law Abiding Citizen

    Not only is it a crime that Fausto Lopez was going over the speed limit and breaking the law, it is a crime that he is driving a car and using gas paid for by tax payers to go to another off-duty job.
    It’s amazing how there are Miami Police who live in Broward County or as far south as Kendall who work for Miami PD and take their car home every day, speeding because they are late to work or because they want to get home sooner!!

    It’s typical though, Politicians who create the law don’t have to live by it so why would the people who enforce the law have to obey it!

  • Ed Tighe

    I guess in Florida it’s Legal to issue a summons to a vehicle that a LEO loses sight of. In most States it’s not & if you see the whole video, the one that is 49 minutes long, not 2 minutes, you see that you can not see any identifying markings on the Miami car, & the Trooper can not see the vehicle. She engages her lights & sirens & then turns them off & continues driving at a high rate of speed, looking for a Miami Police Car. When she finally sees one, she goes after it. How does she know if is the same one that passed her?

  • Knightflyer

    The Beech Trooper needs to stick er gun up where the sun does not shine

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