MIAMI (WSVN) – A judge has rejected a request to acquit a former Hialeah police officer convicted of kidnapping a homeless man.
Former Hialeah police officer Rafael Otano bowed his head and put his hands in prayer Wednesday as the judge denied a new request for acquittal, a new trial and a stay of sentence pending an appeal.
Otano was then seen holding the arm of his defender Michael Pizzi.
“Of course he is disappointed, but without revealing his comments, he believes in God and is confident that at the end of the day he will be released,” Pizzi said.
Last month, a jury found Otano guilty of armed kidnapping, but not guilty of assault.
He was accused of kidnapping and beating homeless man Jose Ortega Gutierrez on December 17, 2022, along with former officer Lorenzo Orfila.
The two drove Gutierrez miles from a mall where he was first arrested and took him to a remote area where, Gutierrez claimed, they beat him and left him injured and bleeding in the woods.
He was later found and helped by another officer.
The judge relied on witness statements in her decision not to grant any of the requests.
“I would like to point out that the defendant in this case has admitted to all intents and purposes the kidnapping, saying, ‘We took him out there and left him behind.’ “We need to get our stories straight,” she said.
Family members fell to their knees outside the courtroom.
Just days earlier, they were seen protesting the jury’s decision outside the Metro Justice Building.
Pizzi said this is just the first round.
“I think this is an injustice, it’s an abomination, it’s a slap in the face to anyone who wears a police badge,” he said, “and we believe we will prevail in the appeals court and reverse the appeals court. “this and release him and find him innocent.”
A sentencing hearing for Otano is scheduled for Oct. 10.
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