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Officials release new details on the death of RPD Officer Manny Ortiz

Spectrum News

An off-duty Rochester Police Officer died Saturday evening on the way to work.

Officer Manny Ortiz was heading downtown Saturday evening, for a shift that started at 7. But minutes before his shift was to begin, Ortiz called his fiance. Monroe County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Michael Fowler said Ortiz told her that he accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own gun and was headed to a hospital.  The bullet hit his femoral artery.

"As we can all understand her shock and her level of excitement at that time. She says what? What did you do? Where are you? And Manny was unable to answer her,” said Fowler.

Witnesses who called 911 said they saw Ortiz’s car swerving before it drifted off the road into a ravine on Empire Boulevard. Fowler said the deputies who responded knew Ortiz. 

“The four deputies that went down the ravine applied the tourniquets and carried Manny up to the side of the road. Of those four, three of them went through the academy with Manny as their instructor," said Fowler.
The 52-year-old Ortiz was a crime prevention officer and a 22-year veteran of the department.

Rochester Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, who also spoke to reporters Saturday night at the scene of the accident, called it a “very sad day” for the department, and noted it has been a tough year for the RPD.

In October, Officer Denny Wright suffered serious injuries when he was stabbed while responding to a domestic incident. Wright was recently released from the hospital, but it still undergoing rehabilitation.

Singletary says that Ortiz was well known in the community and was a “great police officer.” 

Credit James Brown / WXXI
Rochester Police Chief La'Ron Singletary

He says that the RPD lost “a family member,” and that “we’re all grieving.”

Singletary said the Rochester Police Locust Club hall was open over the weekend for officers to gather and mourn and talk to counselors and clergy and officers should open up about their feelings.

“I think a lot of times in law enforcement we hold things in. And I think what we can do is just talk to one another about who Manny was and the worst thing we can do is act like it did not happen,” said Singletary.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Office said first responders involved in the investigation continue to get peer support and assistance as they try and process the sudden death of  "a fellow law enforcement officer and friend."

Mayor Lovely Warren issued a statement saying that, “The passing of Officer Manuel ‘Manny’ Ortiz is a tragedy and a great loss for our city. Officer Ortiz was not only devoted to his career of service, but to his wife and children as well.” She asked that, “all of Rochester join me in praying for the Ortiz family and all those that loved Officer Ortiz.”

City Council President Loretta Scott also called it, “a tragic loss for our community and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Officer Ortiz’s death.”