MIAMI (WSVN) - A City of Miami Police officer was arrested and fired following for allegedly robbing people during traffic stops.
Speaking with reporters on Saturday, Miami Police Deputy Chief Luis Cabrera confirmed 22-year-old Officer Jose Acosta’s arrest. “The officer was charged with one count of armed burglary of a conveyance and one count of armed grand theft,” said Cabrera.
Investigators said Acosta stopped drivers for no apparent reason and ordered them out of their vehicles. Officials said the former officer went into their vehicles and stole all of their cash.
Complaints against Acosta, who joined the department in May of 2016, started coming in, prompting an investigation. “During the month of February, the City of Miami Police Department received several complaints,” said Cabrera.
Investigators said Acosta was caught in the act on Friday, near the intersection of Northwest 22nd Street and Third Avenue, as part of a sting operation involving Miami Police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
At a news conference, Monday afternoon, Cabrera described how the arrest went down. “Acosta entered the driver’s vehicle and took $940 from the driver’s wallet and bank envelope,” he said.
That driver was an undercover officer. Acosta was taken into custody near his parents’ home shortly after.
One family friend who said she has known Acosta for years was left in shock by the arrest. “He’s always been a good young man, a decent man, a young loving child, good to his parents,” said Alice Navarro. “I’m overwhelmed to see what’s going on, but then again, I don’t believe in everything that the media says. I believe in ‘innocent until proven guilty.'”
At Monday’s press conference, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle condemned Acosta’s actions. “It appears that Officer Acosta sold his integrity and sold out on his community,” she said. “Instead of seeking to rid Miami of crime, he became a criminal himself.”
City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also attended the news conference.
“Our citizens can know that if an officer in their community abuses his or her power, that abuse will be discovered and will not be tolerated,” said FDLE Special Agent Troy Walker.
Acosta was initially suspended without pay upon being arrested. He was later terminated.
“The City of Miami Police Department will not tolerate actions that betray the oath of our office as public servants and to serve and protect our communities,” said Cabrera.
Acosta had most recently been patrolling the Wynwood and Allapattah areas, just north of downtown.
The internal investigation is still ongoing.
Investigators believe there may be more victims out there. If you believe you were targeted by Acosta, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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