MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Rookie Miami Police Officer Jose Acosta was with the force for less than a year and was fired Saturday, the day after a multi-agency action took him down in Wynwood for shaking down motorists he pulled over for traffic stops.
Miami Police say Acosta trolled the area stopping, robbing, then letting his victims go.
Miami Police, along with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the State Attorney’s Office spoke to the press Monday afternoon.
“There are numerous victims that this officer has targeted and victimized, and he has used the same methods to take money from these victims,” said Deputy Miami Police Chie Luis Cabrera.
Friday night, police say Acosta pulled over a driver, took $1200 in cash from him, and turned him loose.
The driver was an undercover FDLE agent. Acosta had been nabbed in a sting.
Miami Police say they began their investigation the moment they got the first citizen’s complaint in February.
“Ofc. Acosta sold his integrity and sold out on his community,” Miami Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. “Instead of seeking to rid Miami of crime, he became a criminal himself.”
Police believe there are many more victims of this alleged thieving cap. They say they watched him pull over and search five drivers Friday night alone, letting them go, and not radioing in the traffic stops.
“We will not tolerate any employee’s betrayal of the public trust,” Cabrera said.
A probationary officer, Acosta could have been fired without cause. Police say they had lots of cause.
Miami police say Acosta underwent a battery of background checks, poly graph exams and psychological evaluations before entering the academy and after graduating. They say none indicated he was capable of armed robbery, on or off duty.
Prior to Monday, the City of Miami Police had not released much information on his arrest, only saying in a statement sent on Saturday that he was a rookie cop who had been on the job since May 2016 and was assigned to patrol the area of Wynwood.
Police sources told CBS4 complaints had come in, accusing Acosta of stealing from people he would pull over. They also said Acosta was arrested during a sting operation in which the State Attorney’s Office and FDLE were involved.
According to his arrest report, an undercover agent posing as a potential traffic victim had money planted in his pockets and was stopped by Acosta Friday evening.
During the stop, Acosta took the undercover agent out of the car and placed the agent against the vehicle then “searched the undercover agent’s pockets and removed all his belongings including the planted marked U.S. currency,” the report reads.
Moments later, Acosta searched the car and later left, leaving the undercover agent standing on the sidewalk, according to investigators. Two minutes later, the agent notified investigators that Acosta “had taken the money,” according to the report.
Investigators said Acosta ended his shift without reporting, declaring or documenting any of the property or money taken from the undercover agent during the traffic stop. He was later taken into custody.
Following his arrest, Acosta was relieved of duty without pay, pending his termination.
During the weekend, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) responded to the incident, commending “the outstanding efforts of the MPD Internal Affairs Division in keeping our police department and community safe.”
The investigation is ongoing, authorities said.