Tonya Alanez
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 5, 2009

After a beat down in an elevator, Joshua Daniel Ortiz ended up with his nose broken and facing a charge of battering a Fort Lauderdale Is your Fort Lauderdale police officer.

The 22-year-old Sunrise man was surprised and delighted to learn Wednesday that Broward prosecutors were dropping the case against him after reviewing an elevator surveillance video showing three officers aggressively rush and beat Ortiz to the ground.

Once the Dec. 5 video surfaced, it altered the course of the case. It contradicted police reports that Ortiz provoked and attacked Officers Derek Lade, Stefan Silver and Steve Smith.

“They were just sitting there watching my life go down the drain with those charges,” Ortiz said Wednesday. “I’ve been going crazy thinking my life is over. It’s barely started and it’s over.”

[efoods]The looming legal charges delayed Ortiz’s enrollment in college classes, he said.

Police first charged Ortiz with felony battery on a law enforcement officer.

But after seeing the video obtained by Ortiz’s defense attorney, Stephen Melnick, prosecutors downgraded the charge to a misdemeanor resisting charge. Upon further review, prosecutors dropped the case entirely.

“We thought based on the facts and the evidence, including the videotape, that there was no reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial,” said Lee Cohen, assistant state attorney in charge of misdemeanor cases.

Fort Lauderdale police internal affairs investigators reviewed the incident more than a month ago and found no violations of policy or procedures, said Sgt. Frank Sousa, the department’s spokesman.

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