Miami Cops Challenge Trooper’s Arrest Of Officer

MIAMI (CBS4) – Some Miami police officers are furious that a Florida state trooper took a Miami cop down at gunpoint and put him in handcuffs after a high speed chase through Broward County.

Trooper Donna Watts arrested Miami Officer Fausto Lopez early on the morning of October 11th.  Her dashboard camera recorded the Miami officer, in a marked police car, blowing past her and other traffic on the Florida Turnpike like it was standing still.  Watts radioed that Lopez was going “well over 120” miles per hour, and was weaving “in and out of traffic.”

When the trooper got the cop stopped, she approached his car with her gun drawn, ordered him out, and handcuffed him behind his back.  Lopez said he was rushing to get to an off-duty job in Hollywood, according to the arrest report.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union representing Miami officers, slammed the state trooper’s behavior on Wednesday.

She was “completely unprofessional and very reckless,” said Sgt. Javier Ortiz, the FOP vice-president.

“I pulled someone over last week doing 111 (mph) in a 60,” Ortiz said.  “I didn’t put a gun to their face.  Their is no reason for her to pull a firearm and put it in the face of another police officer.”

Trooper Watts told her superiors she didn’t know who she was dealing with in the pursuit that lasted seven minutes and went twelve miles.  She thought the police car might have been stolen or carjacked, given that it kept going despite her blue lights and siren being on.

“If she thought the car was stolen, she should have waited for back-up help,” Ortiz said.  “You don’t conduct a felony stop by yourself.”

In the audio from the trooper’s dashboard camera she can be heard lecturing the police officer for endangering the public, and described his behavior as common to Miami officers in particular.

“You don’t respect these people out here,” the trooper told Lopez.  “This is not a first-time occurrence with ya’ll (Miami police).  Ya’ll come that way all the time.  It’s not excusable.”

Ortiz, the Miami union rep, said he believes Trooper Watts has a dislike for Miami police and was “on the hunt” for a Miami officer.

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) issued a statement supporting its trooper’s actions.

The Miami police union is entitled to its opinion, but our members protect the public regardless of who the violator is,” said FHP Captain Mark Brown from his office in Tallahassee.  “She (Trooper Watts) took an oath to uphold the law and that is what she did.”

Lopez’s attorney, being paid by the police union, said on Wednessday that the officer was not guilty.

“This is a matter that’s been blown out of proportion,” attorney William Matthewman told CBS4 News.

Matthewman said Lopez is a “fine police officer with three children, who has been on the streets for six years protecting the community.”

“Just like any other citizen, he is entitled to a presumption of innocence.” Matthewman said.  “If you look at the video fairly, it does not show reckless driving.”

Matthewman said Lopez was weaving across lanes, trying to get out of the trooper’s way, because he thought she was on her way to an emergency call.

The lawyer said “there is no way” the officer was going 120 miles per hour as the trooper claimed.

Interim Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa told CBS4’s Gary Nelson on Monday that Officer Lopez did a “dumb” and “knuckle-headed thing,” and will face discipline of some sort when the criminal case against him is resolved.

Lopez remains on regular duty.

More from Gary Nelson
  • tincup

    FOP, What a bunch of CRAB.
    The Trooper was doing her job, and she did it well.
    Many times I have seen City of Miami and even Metro-DAde cops on the turnpike
    going well over the speed limit, (no lights, no siren).
    Somewhere it has to stop, I support the trooper 100%.

    • Rick

      Trooper Watts should have been fired. If you’re that stupid to think a cop car was carjacked or stolen, dispatch would have knew to put a firearm in someones face for speeding, in a patrol car, marked, in uniform, is paranoid bull. She apparantly is affraid to do her job, and does not know policy. All she had to do was contact that officer’s suprvisor, call it in and leave it at that and let the superiors handle it. Troopr Watts thinks sheto is above the law. I’m not a cop. Just one of the public. She’s an embarasemnt to Law Enforcement, and does not know how to conduct herself.

      • lmmd

        lopez is the one who broke the law not watts………

  • anonymous

    oh how the tables have turned, I need to find this woman and shake her hand.

    • Linda Tower

      I fully pat the trooper Watts on the back. It should not matter if it was a Miami Cop or not. He was driving to endanger others. 120 miles per hour should not be allowed by cop or any one else. He was wrong . I commend Officer Watts on doing her duty. Who is Officer Lopez to think he is above the law and can drive that fast? He was late for his off time job. We all have excuses like that , and we would have been treated just like that. He is not special. Watts went against THE BROTHERHOOD. Now she will be ostracized for this. That will be the next step from Miami Police. She did her job and should be applauded.

      • Joe Patrick

        Trooper Watts is right. Why isnt anyone pointing more fingers at the Miami Cop. She should now run for Mayor. You go Trooper Watts, outstanding job. Keep it up.

  • Jay

    The statements made by the union and the lawyer is typical for Miami as the cops there think that they are above the law. If he thought the Trooper was going to an emergency call he should of slowed and pulled over. This Bozo won’t even accept responsibility for his endangering the public. As a former Police Officer I am embarrassed and find Miami cops to be arrogant, unprofessional, and corrupt. What the city should do is fire everyone and start over. The behavior was criminal and if that would of been Joe citizen we would not be discussing this.

    • stopthenonsense

      your right about that. Too much corruption in miami. Thier are good cops, but they cant speak out because 99% are corrupt

    • American for change

      Off duty when picked up doing over 100mph ??? how is union involved NOT, 2 jobs guess 90k plus a year not enough, T
      Thought it was at one time u could not have two jobs being state employee or with the UNION. , cops r all wrong and union should not help he was not on duty,
      Charges for using cop car to get to private job or for personnel errands and what about gas wonder who Paying ,, taxpayers, Lots of charges to teach above the law persons,,,

    • American for change

      Off duty when picked up doing over 100mph ??? how is union involved NOT, 2 jobs guess 90k plus a year not enough, T
      Thought it was at one time u could not have two jobs being state employee or with the UNION. , cops r all wrong and union should not help he was not on duty,
      Charges for using cop car to get to private job or for personnel errands and what about gas wonder who Paying ,, taxpayers, Lots of charges to teach above the law persons,,,

    • carolyn1263

      you sure got that right

    • albert


    • xoxoxxo

      really? you are a former police officer? from one copy to another…you are an idiot….suffice to say

  • carolyn1263

    i think the state trooper did her job real well ! from what i have been told by police and by lawyers they are suppose to follow the same laws too, they need to stop thinking that they are above the law, i think internal affairs so should be brought in ,clearlly seems miami dade seems to have there own law then the rest of the state ,some thing is not working cause they are drinking on the job ,driven drunk n running over people !!!! where is interal affairs?????

  • Joe Murga

    No Miami Officer is above the Law, the Miami officer was wrong, of course the Union has an obligation to defend the Miami officer, but the State Trooper performed superbly.

  • curtis

    “rushing to an off duty job” and his attorney is paid for by the union??????

    Pay for your it on your own like everyone else! as a matter of fact ask your employer for time off, go to the court house, pay for your own parking parking (in a legal parking place not where ever you want) go in front of the judge and say I didnt do it. And get the same punishment, actually a bit more because you should be held to a higher standard of care than the average person. And of course pay your own car insurance premium that doubles because of your risk to insure. As a kind gesture I would recommend you donate money to charity for the wasted gas and wear and tear to the vehicle.
    Bravo to the FHP I have seen this for far to long.

    • Albert

      Well Said, the FHP trooper is a hero!!!
      If it would of been anybody else do you you think we would be talking about this now???? NO, that other person would be in jail !!! trying to hire the Ticket Clinic to help save his ass, instaed of having a city Lawyer at his disposal.

  • homer

    The Miami Police Internal Affairs is a joke just like the rest of the department! Miami PD are basically criminals with badges and I’m glad former officer Geovani Nuñez (remember him?) is rotting in jail! This can’t continue to go on. Who polices the police was answered. Congrats to the FHP trooper!

  • Afraid to Call

    For over 30 years, I have lived in Broward County and traveled the expressways to work in Miami-Dade. Many South Florida officers also live in Broward or Palm Beach and commute in their patrol cars.

    In my opinion, the “I am above the law” attitude is not confined to Officer Fausto or the Miami Police Dept. I have observed officers from North Miami, North Miami Beach, Hialeah and Miami Beach driving aggressively and at excessive speeds on Broward roadways. They drive aggressively even in their own neighborhoods and pull into their driveway like they are responding to a crime in progress.

    Occasionally, their actions are so flagrant that I note the patrol car ID number with the intention of calling in a complaint.

    But then I realize, who would I call to report it? The police department?

    Thank you, Trooper Watts.

  • UckTheFunions

    Way to go FHP!! Time to bust these Banana Republic cops! Of course their Union and Lawyers are upset, they are financed by ther union dues.

  • Smith

    This is no surprise for me, I almost have 2 accidents cause by the fast and irregular drive of two off duty officers in their patrol cars.

    They don’t used turn signal and watch out, because if you crash with them
    Is very likely that YOU will lose the case!!

  • Steve

    I think the Trooper did the right thing, she didn’t know if he was a Officer. Besides he was not in his work area, why was he speeding on the highway. If anyone else speed they get pulled over and treated that way. Why is it that PDLE not on duty, use the highways and streets to speed everywhere. If they are not on duty aren’t they supposed to obey the laws like everyone else. I see FDLE cars speeding dainly on t eh highway, either on thiere way to work or home. Always speeding. There is no autobahn here. They should all do the limit not 70 & above in a 55.

  • al

    Watch how the PD take car of it;s own……………..

  • Corker G

    Congrats to the FHP trooper!

  • Frank Wendeln

    I was in the Future Police Officer’s club in the 70’s and our liaison, was Officer Sorenson and he once told us that a policeman cannot go over the speed limit without BOTH Lights and Sirens on. Sure, when it has to be quiet, Lights only, but NEVER without one or the other and it should be ONLY when going on a call.

    Even I as a laymen with some experience working in the training dept of Ft Lauderdale Police knew from just the basic news reports that the officer pulled her gun because she wasn’t sure who was driving the car. Look at how long and far she chased the guy. ANY of us would get a gun pulled on us, but we’d probably get ripped out of the car and thrown to the ground.

    The only common sense statement that Officer Ortiz made was that Officer Watts didn’t call/wait for backup (I have not heard all of the details). But you know what Officer Ortiz? Maybe the FHP doesn’t have enough officers on the road because of budget cutbacks and most of the time, they are on their own anyway.

    I also must chastise CBS4 for having more detail online and not the same on the air. But at least you have it here.

  • BIG AL

    Thats great what she did!!! Miami Police are so disrespectful they should all get locked up so they can learn who the real criminals are! There very concern to show there steroid muscles and authority to any citizen ,they have no respect thats why they get no respect. It’s very simple at that speed on a highway you could’ve killed people or left your kids without a father MORON!

  • nomercy55

    that miami cop can go to hell….

  • Mike

    Here we are again,another Miami policeman thinking he’s above the law and won’t man up and admit he was wrong. There is no reason for driving as fast as he was going while he was off active duty. Just because he’s a policeman does not mean he is an expert driver and can act like he did on a piece of highway that’s already dangerous enough. Shame on them-you need to man up, take your medicine, and apologize to everyone involved! To the union rep-sometimes your clients can be embarrasing to your organization. You need to take the bull by the horns and tell him he’s wrong and do damage control. The community would forgive him and maybe have a little appreciation for the frowned upon union. Yes, I was a union rep and I understand the situation, but don’t start throwing stones at another law enforcement agency without evaluating the WHOLE situation.

  • EPP

    No matter who is wrong FHP has kicked a hornets nest in the face of the local boys, Local boys all over Florida are going to take it personally because it could have been any of them. I am afraid next time an FHP officer is being shot at and requests BACK UP the local boys will respond faster than the speed limit.

    • lmmd

      Doesn’t have to be any of the local boys if they’d just follow the rule of the law – JUST WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

  • Melinda Ferrell

    Every comment it the nail on the head. Until all behavior by these rogue police officers is brought to a halt the public is in danger for their misdeeds. WTG FHP were just need more like you.

  • John Q. Citizen

    So what the Miami officer is saying in essence is they all do it and what’s the big deal? Next thing you know it will be OK to have a few drinks at a party on SOBE and then take some girls out on an ATV ride along the beach while on duty. Whats the big deal right? We’re cops, we know better.

  • manuel

    Do I smell gender prejudice here ?

  • Alex

    Let me get this straight. He’s driving at a high rate of speed while off duty in a marked police car without his emergency lights on and gets pulled over by a Cop who’s jurisdiction he happens to be in (FHP), and your questioning the FHP officer’s actions? Something is very wrong here and the public needs to wake up and demand action.

  • Joe M

    Most cops in Miami are so corrupt that even despite making a mistake they want to make trooper Watts as if she was the one braking the law. CMPD need to clean up their act with crooked cops.

  • Luis bonilla

    Mr. Ortiz, cops like you are the problem. The citizens are sick and tired of you crooked cops thinking you are above the law. Time to fight back.

  • Francisco Brignoni

    I’m personally sick and tired of seeing Police officers run stop signs, double park in the midle of the street to have a chit chat, and just plain break the law. They should be setting an example out there, it is time we occuppy the polic stations and demand change!! On another note thanks to the Aventura Police officer who stop me and informed me of my defective tail light, he told me to get it fixed and let me go, it’s fixed now thanks!!!

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