Philly cop Angel Ortiz, subject of 'City Paper' investigation, gets desk duty
A police spokesperson would not give a reason for Ortiz's reassignment.
Philadelphia Police Officer Angel Ortiz has been given an administrative job with the department's Differential Police Response Unit, a police spokesperson confirmed today.
The spokesperson, Officer Christine O'Brien, would not give a reason for Ortiz's reassignment, nor would she confirm whether Internal Affairs had opened an investigation into Ortiz's conduct as an officer. Officers under investigation by Internal Affairs are often, but not always, reassigned to the Differential Police Response Unit.
In June, City Paper published a lengthy investigation into an arrest made by Ortiz and former cop Andre Boyer, who was kicked off of the force in 2013 for alleged conduct violations.
Around 12:30 on Sept. 1, 2011, Boyer and Ortiz pulled over James Singleton in North Philadelphia, and, according to the arrest report, noticed a bag inside the car that appeared to contain drugs. The report said that although Ortiz obtained verbal permission to search Singelton's car, the pair instead sent the car to the Narcotics Field Unit, where a police dog was brought in.
There, Ortiz said he recovered a "black plastic bag from the rear passenger seat protruding from the top of a lager [sic] bag with clothes inside" containing 704 packets of heroin, which held a street value of $7,440. Narcotics Officer Diertra Cuffie then applied for a warrant at 7 p.m. that evening.
If that timeline seems confusing, it's because it is. Boyer alleges there are inconsistencies in the arrest report because Ortiz worked with Cuffie to fabricate it.
Ortiz himself later changed his story: At Singleton's preliminary hearing on Sept. 20, Ortiz later said he recovered the drugs during the traffic stop at 12:30 that day. Boyer said the car was then brought to the 22nd District Police Headquarters for further inspection before sending it to the Narcotics Field Unit, where Boyer alleges the drugs were then placed back inside the car. Photographic evidence Boyer provided to City Paper suggested that the car had, indeed, turned up at the 22nd District Headquarters that day.
If true, the inconsistencies in Ortiz's story could amount to perjury.
The District Attorney later dropped its charges against Singleton. Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the DA's office, said today his office is not currently investigating Ortiz, and that he did not know why the charges in 2011 were dropped. Attempts to contact Allison Ruth (formerly Worysz), the Assistant District Attorney who handled Singleton's case, were unsuccessful today.
Boyer said he reported Ortiz twice to Internal Affairs, first under a pseudonym, and again under his real name. A letter provided to City Paper suggested that Internal Affairs had contacted Singleton for some sort of investigation in 2014, and Boyer said he'd been interviewed by Internal Affairs earlier this year as well.
Lt. John Stanford, Philadelphia Police's commanding officer of public affairs, told City Paper today the department could not comment on any internal affairs investigation, were one to exist.
Boyer claims his firing was simply retaliation for blowing the whistle on Ortiz and Cuffie, who have since testified in other investigations.
A spokesperson for Philadelphia Police said today that Cuffie remains on duty with the Narcotics Field Unit.