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Newly-released body camera footage showed that Miami Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez was initially handcuffed and detained when Tampa police first encountered him last week, after getting a report that a man was threatening to kill himself at the Marriott Water Street Hotel.

“I didn’t do anything. I don’t understand,” Ramirez said after being handcuffed. “I’m the director of the police department.”

But by the time Tampa officers converged on his hotel room  July 24, toting bullet-proof shields, the witness was gone, according to police reports. 

A check of surveillance video turned up nothing to corroborate the report. Ramirez’s wife, Jody, who had been drinking, said initially she didn’t know if he turned his gun on himself before vouching for her husband.

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The hotel would tell the Ramirezes to leave. A couple of hours later, Ramirez would follow through on what the witnesses saw and heard: he shot himself in the head on the side of Interstate 75.

Ramirez, the County’s top cop, was running to keep his position and become Miami-Dade’s first elected sheriff in decades. He survived when the bullet exited his eye. 

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There were at least a dozen Tampa police officers responding July 23 to the hotel where Ramirez and his wife were attending a 2023 Florida Sheriffs Association summer conference.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava spoke with Ramirez after the argument with his wife, a conversation in which Ramirez offered his resignation.

The Miami Herald previously reported that three witnesses at the conference saw Ramirez with his hands around his wife’s neck.

Body camera footage shows officers approaching a hotel room door. Officers reported they heard Ramirez arguing with his wife Jody. 

“Tampa police! Come out with your hands up sir,” the officer ordered.

Ramirez had to be told several times to keep his hands up before complying. He was walked down the hotel hallway in handcuffs by one officer. “I was just talking to my wife. I didn’t do anything,” Ramirez said.

Hotel security told Tampa police that an unknown witness who’d been waiting for an Uber flagged down the “sheriffs” and told them they saw a man and woman arguing when “the male subject pulled out a firearm and put it to his head and stated he was going to “end it here,” according to the police report.

But without the witness or surveillance – or Jody Ramirez confirming – Tampa police had to let the police director go. “Ramirez did not appear to satisfy Baker Act criteria,” according to the police report, citing the state’s involuntary commitment provision.

A glossy-eyed Jody Ramirez told Tampa police she had been drinking and asked, “Is this real?”

“She stated that her and her husband were just having a conversation which began downstairs in the street, regarding ‘stuff going on’ and ‘personal issues,” according to a police report.

Jody Ramirez initially told Tampa police she did not know if her husband pulled a firearm but later changed her statement to “that he never pulled out a firearm,” according to a police report.

“He has plenty of demons from the job, as you guys all are probably aware of. I know every button to push and I’m pushing them today because normally I don’t drink,” she told Tampa police.

“He got me an Old Fashioned (an alcoholic beverage). It’s his fault.”

Mayor Levine Cava named Stephanie Daniels, another top department official, to be interim police director after Ramirez shot himself.

John Pacenti

JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.