Crime

Update: Teen shot by deputy's Taser dies

Deputies say they were faced with an out-of-control, violent young man, screaming, foaming at the mouth and yelling incoherently when they shot him with a stun gun in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

That young man, Roberto Fausto Ornelas, 18, of Key Largo, died in the Intensive Care Unit of Homestead Hospital at 5:51 p.m. Monday evening, according to the Miami-Dade County Police Department, the agency investigating his death. He would have turned 19 on Wednesday, Jan. 7. 

“My heart is broken, totally,” his father Guadalupe Juan Ornelas said over the phone Tuesday. 

He said medical staff told him they did not find any traces of drugs in Roberto’s system yet, but there are so many new illicit drugs on the market that tests often don’t detect them. 

Roberto Ornelas does have a felony drug arrest on his record. Sheriff’s Office narcotics deputies arrested him in April on an intent-to-sell charge. 

Guadalupe said he does not blame the deputies for using a Taser stun gun on his son.

“I wish that didn’t happen, but the police did their job, and I respect that,” he said. 

According to a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office offense report written by Deputy Bryan Cross, Guadalupe Ornelas called 911 around 4 a.m. Jan. 1 because his son was throwing things around their Marlin Avenue home “for unknown reasons.”

When Cross arrived, Roberto was in his bedroom with the door locked. Cross heard him breaking objects and screaming to himself  — “incoherent sentences, outbursts of words.”

Sgt. Sydney Whitehouse arrived at the Ornelas home to back up Cross. The two deputies forced the door off Roberto’s bedroom and were able to see through a mirror that he was “on his knees inside the closet, bent over forward on his elbows and his forearms, punching the inner corner closet walls, facing the door.” 

Another officer, Deputy Pedro Garcia, arrived and entered the bedroom with Cross. Garcia “was able to get Roberto’s attention, causing Roberto to stand up in the closet.”

Cross said Roberto “appeared to be wigging out on some form of drug.”

A Homestead Hospital spokeswoman would not comment on Ornelas’ condition, or if he had drugs in his system.

Cross wrote in his report that Roberto “was sweating profusely, his eyes were wide open with a blank stare as if staring through you and was foaming around his mouth and nose area.”

Garcia grabbed the teen’s arm, but Roberto broke free of the deputy’s grip. This is when Cross used his Taser, striking Roberto in the upper center torso. Cross said there was no other option.

“Before we could say anything, Roberto then turned toward me with a blank stare, eyes wide open, uttering incoherent phrases, spitting in my face, then lunging toward me,” Cross wrote. 

After handcuffing him, the deputies placed a “spit mask” over Roberto’s face. They took him to an awaiting Key Largo Ambulance Corps unit outside the home. 

“We placed Roberto on the stretcher and had to hobble Roberto’s feet, due to him trying to kick the medical personnel,” Cross wrote. “Roberto continued to yell and scream in tongue and fight at medical personnel while being treated at the scene.” 

Cross ended his report stating that the ambulance took Roberto Ornelas to Mariners Hospital in Tavernier. It is unclear when he was taken to Homestead or why. 

Sheila Konczewski, a Mariners Hospital spokeswoman, said she could not comment now that Ornelas' death is being investigated by Miami-Dade police.

Deputy Becky Herrin, a Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, said there will be no internal investigation and that the deputies reacted properly when they were called to the Ornelas home. 

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