The Cleveland Police Department has suspended an officer for 30 days without pay for calling a Black man a racial slur as she drunkenly harassed employees of a pizzeria while off-duty.
Officer Jessica Ortiz served the suspension in July and August after Cleveland Safety Director Karrie Howard signed off on the decision.
In her interview with investigators, Ortiz initially denied the accusations, but she eventually pleaded no contest to the internal charges during a June disciplinary hearing.
According to the disciplinary records, the incident happened April 30, 2018, at Nunzio’s pizzeria on Lorain Avenue. Ortiz, who was off-duty at the time, stumbled into the pizzeria to pick up an order.
Witnesses reported that she nearly fell several times. A group of employees in the parking lot saw Ortiz stumbling and fall. One employee helped Ortiz up, according to the records. One of the employees pulled their car closer to watch her and called 911 because Ortiz appeared drunk and was driving.
The internal investigation also stated that Ortiz went inside, spat on the floor, and argued with different employees. She got her pizza, took several steps and vomited inside the pizza box.
Ortiz later walked up to a car and asked the name of the man sitting in the passenger seat. He didn’t answer and told Ortiz to step away from the car. Ortiz responded: “I’m a cop. I can do whatever I want.”
Ortiz reached inside the car, inadvertently hit the woman’s nose, and called the man, who is Black, the n-word.
“I can tell by your tattoos that you’re a little n----r,” she continued. Ortiz told the group to get out of their car, but they refused and rolled up their windows.
Ortiz took off her jacket, punched the car window and ordered them to open the windows. She grabbed the door handle and tried to open the car as the group again called 911.
“These m-----------s think I’m lying. I' m a cop. I’ll do something. I’ll have the whole district down here,” Ortiz said, according to the files.
According to the records, Ortiz’s friend got out of their car, grabbed her and convinced her to drive away. Ortiz sped off and ran a stoplight, nearly striking a utility pole.
In a written statement three days after the incident, Ortiz said she got into an argument at the pick-up window, left her badge number and name and left.
In a recorded interview with investigators months later, she said the employee threatened to call the police. Ortiz responded by saying that she was a police officer and provided her badge number and name.
She told investigators she was not drunk and had only two beers that night. She denied using racial slurs and vomiting in the pizza box, according to the records.
Investigators showed her surveillance video of the incident and asked if the person in the video appeared intoxicated. Ortiz responded: “It may appear that way, but all I had was the two Coronas.”
In August a Columbia Police Officer was suspended for using a racial slur.
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