JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The State Attorney’s Office has filed charges against two Jacksonville-area law enforcement officers in separate battery and felony grand-theft prosecutions and tapped the agency’s second-in-command to help prosecute each case.
Chief Assistant State Attorney Mac D. Heavener III is co-prosecuting the cases against Neptune Beach Police Department Officer Chris Ortiz and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer Tim James. The office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the cases.
James faces one count of misdemeanor battery after his department arrested him in June. He is accused of beating a handcuffed teenager in the back of a patrol car. The officer’s personnel file revealed that he had been investigated at least 11 times before the arrest, including seven sustained complaints about potentially fireable offenses such as lying to supervisors. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the case.
Ortiz faces three counts of felony grand theft after he was arrested following an undercover sting in which he was accused of stealing from people he had pulled over. The Neptune Beach Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since taking office in January, State Attorney Melissa Nelson has put in place numerous safeguards against abusive policing, including a policy to keep a list of police officers who might be problematic witnesses in court and creating a human rights division, a move that prompted pushback from the local police union president.
David Chapman, the agency’s communications director, said that Heavener will be working with Assistant State Attorney Katelyn Johnston on the James case and Assistant State Attorney David Johnston on the Ortiz case.
Find out more on this developing story with The Florida Times-Union here.