City of Miami police officer Jose R. Acosta was arrested on March 11 for allegedly robbing people during traffic stops. He faces charges for armed grand theft and armed burglary of conveyance. It is unclear if he has sought legal representation.
According to sources in the Miami Police Department, Acosta, 22, was a rookie cop who joined the department in May 2016. He allegedly stopped drivers for no apparent reason and then ordered them out of their vehicles. The officer then purportedly went into the vehicles hunting for cash. He sent each driver on their way without writing any tickets or informing dispatch.
To catch Acosta in the act, Miami Police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reportedly launched an undercover sting operation at the intersection of NW 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue on Friday night.
An undercover agent was stopped by Acosta, who allegedly asked him to exit the vehicle so he could perform a search. Acosta reportedly entered the vehicle and took a total of $940 from the driver’s wallet and bank envelope. After Acosta didn’t report the stop or removing the cash, investigators placed him under arrest.
“The city of Miami Police Department will not tolerate actions that betray the oath of our office as public servants and contradict our duty to serve and to protect our communities,” said Luis Cabrera, the Miami Deputy Chief of Police, in a statement to the press on Saturday.
In a press conference on Monday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle condemned the rookie officer’s actions, saying, “It appears that Officer Acosta sold his integrity and sold out on his community. Instead of seeking to rid Miami of crime, he became a criminal himself.”
Acosta was initially suspended without pay after his arrest, but was later terminated from the department. The investigation is still ongoing and investigators believe there are more victims out there. Acosta reportedly patrolled the Allapattah and Wynwood areas north of downtown. Anyone who believes they were targeted by the officer are encouraged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers.
Another story involving a law enforcement officer abusing his position was reported earlier this month. David Castillas, a former Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, was arrested last month for reportedly helping Miami dentist Jesus Del Valle cover up a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured Yoel Montero. Castillas, 35, is being charged with organized fraud, official misconduct, and filing a false insurance claim.
According to the arrest report, the hit-and-run crash occurred in June 2016. A Range Rover sideswiped a landscaping crew working on a street in Miami Beach, injured Montero, and drove off without stopping. Montero, who was working with the crew at the time, damaged his right left and suffered a serious head injury.
The SUV’s passenger-side mirror was torn off during the crash and that detail was what led Investigators to Del Valle. Replacement parts for the vehicle model have to bought directly from the manufacturer, and only one replacement mirror was sold in the weeks following the crash.
Investigators tracked the mirror to Ariel Perera, who repaired the dentist’s damaged SUV. After further investigation, the police learned that the dentist asked Casillas to write him a fake police report with false details of the date, time, and manner in which the vehicle was damaged. Del Valle used the bogus report to file an insurance claim. He was also arrested as part of the investigation.