MIAMI (CBS4) – New radio transmissions shed light on the exchange between a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and an off-duty City of Miami officer after the officer was pulled over last month for speeding on the turnpike.
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.
“I don’t know what agency it is. I’m on 91, almost to Sunrise. He’s well over 120, and he’s not stopping,” said Trooper Watts. “All I can see is a white patrol car with blue or something like that. It would be Miami or DOT, and I’m sure it’s not DOT.”
On the transmission, her supervisor is heard telling Watts that if the car was, in fact, a City of Miami cruiser that she should stand down,
When Watts finally pulled Lopez over, dispatch instructed her to take down the officer’s name and contact information. Instead, Watts is seen on her dashboard camera approaching the cruiser with her gun drawn. Once Lopez exited the cruiser, Watts placed him in handcuffs.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union representing Miami officers, slammed the state trooper’s behavior.
She was “completely unprofessional and very reckless,” said Sgt. Javier Ortiz, the FOP vice-president.
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.
The FHP issued a statement supporting its trooper’s actions.
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.