Miami Police Chief: Ultra Organizers Could Face Charges Over Trampling

Ultra_2014_Gatecrashers_Criminal_Charges.jpg
Photo by Michael E. Miller
Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa points out where gate crashers breached Ultra security.

Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa was defiant during a news conference on Monday, saying his department warned Ultra about the weak spot in the event's fence where a security guard would later be trampled.

He went so far as to suggest that Ultra organizers could face criminal charges over the trampling.

"Someone [at Ultra] decided to change the plans at the last moment," Orosa said. "That's what led to the incident."

UPDATE In the wake of the trampling incident, Ultra organizers have announced a "Comprehensive Security Review" to "prevent a criminal incident of this nature from happening again."

See also: Ultra Music Festival: Female Security Guard Fights for Her Life After "Mob" Trampled Her

Orosa said his officers conducted a security walk-through of Ultra an hour or two before it opened on Friday evening. The vast majority of the festival was surrounded by sturdy, eight-foot "G8" fencing, he said.

However, a small section near the southwest corner -- where food and drink was brought in for vendors to sell -- was walled off with just a chainlink fence.

"We brought this to the attention of Ultra personnel," Orosa said. "We told them to fix it. Their fix was a double chainlink fence."

It was that double chainlink fence that a group of gate crashers toppled onto security guard Erica Mack a few hours later, breaking her leg and crushing her head beneath their feet. She remains in stable but critical condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Orosa said his department was culling video from nearby banks and the public in hopes of identifying some of the youths responsible for the trampling. The culprits could face charges of culpable negligence -- a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

However, Orosa also said someone at Ultra could face similar charges for failing to properly reinforce the fence.

Thumbnail image for Ultra_trampling_Ivette_Lozano.jpg
courtesy of Ivette Lozano
Ultra security guard Erica Mack suffered a broken leg and head trauma after gate crashers trampled her.
"There is a twofold investigation," he said. "One, a criminal investigation as to the culpable negligence of any individual who had the say-so to do the changing away from the permit and would have been able to think that something like this could have happened."

There is also an investigation by Occupational Safety and Health Administration into how and why the accident happened, he said.

But one thing Orosa did not blame Ultra for was the number of police at the music festival. Some politicians have claimed that Ultra has pushed back against the police's presence at the yearly event. But the chief said that the number of cops at the event has soared from 115 in 2011 to 260 this year.

"Every time we ask Ultra for more officers, they always say yes and provide the funds," Orosa said.

Cops can earn up to $2,000 extra by working the weekend-long event. That's more than half a million dollars Ultra paid Miami Police this year.

Orosa was evasive when asked about Adonis Peña Escoto, who New Times revealed had died Saturday night in his car after attending Ultra. Escoto's family has said they suspect someone slipped the 21-year-old a drink spiked with drugs, but Orosa said a toxicology report could take up to two months.

If indeed drug-related, it would be the second such death in two years. Last year, 20-year-old New Jerseyan Anthony Cassano died at Ultra of a suspected overdose.

But the police chief was quick to exonerate both his department and Ultra of any drug-related deaths.

"When I was a kid, you'd go to any concert and people would take drugs. It hasn't changed, and I don't think it's going to change in the future," he said. "It's just a matter of whatever music it is, whether it's rock 'n' roll or electronic music like at Ultra. There are people who want to get high, and sadly history has not taught us a lesson yet.

"It's just human responsibility whether or not you are going to stop short of killing yourself or you want to continue down the path and go ahead and kill yourself," Orosa added. "We can control the drugs coming into Ultra as best as we can, but whatever happens outside at your home, we really can't control that."

Citing rampant drug use, noise complaints, and now the security guard trampling, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff have both called for Ultra to be kicked out of the city next year. A decision could come as soon as city hearing on April 10.

Despite the money the music festival brings Miami Police -- not to mention the millions for downtown hotels, bars, and the Bayfront Park Management Trust -- Orosa said cops would adapt to whatever decision the city makes.

"I follow orders from the elected officials. They are my bosses," he said. "If they decide that they don't want it anymore, we will plan accordingly. If they decide that they are going to keep it, we will plan accordingly as well."

Crossfade's Top Blogs
-Young Ultra Attendee Dies After Saturday's Show
-Ultra 2014: Video Shows Fence Jumpers Retreating After Being Caught by Security
-Ultra 2014: After Trampling, It's Party as Usual

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Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park

301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: Music

Bayfront Park

301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: General

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41 comments
melanie
melanie

Ultra needs to implement an 18+ age restriction.

verdisvioletta
verdisvioletta

So it sounds like the permit for the event prohibited this kind of fencing, the police went around checking for permit compliance and found a breach and told Ultra to "fix it", the repair was never checked for compliance before the gates were opened. Sounds to me like the ultimate negligence is going to fall on the city's shoulders for knowingly allowing a hazardous condition contrary to the event permit restrictions to occur and be in place when the event started. City of Miami. Sued again. 

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

And as a general comment to ALL of you? ULTRA is not going anywhere. Too much money is at stake for that. The security guard didn't die and even if she had, one death is not enough to affect this kind of money. As for Regalado and Sarnoff? they're just posturing, which comes as natural to politicians as eating nuts does to squirrels. This whole debate will go away in another 3 days, and just like in George Orwell's " 1984" we will led like lemmings into watching or commenting on the NEXT fabricated crisis. Take heed people....the Ukraine is ALREADY fading from the airwaves, next to go will be that Malaysian plane ( unless something new develops) , our current MEDIA cycle for crisis is about 7 days or less. After that? WE the public lose interest, and the moment we do that? the story disappears.

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Omar, in the unlikely event you actually practice " criminal law", you know damm well, or should , that police officers can " force and compel" practically anything or anybody provided they have 'probable cause" and THEY decide what that probable cause may be at the time of the incident. :)

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Spare us the platitudes and the false threats Chief, let's borrow from your own words " "I follow orders from the elected officials. They are my bosses," he said. LMAOOOO, sooo, the mayor leaned on you and now you have to be seen doing something. I think we've all seen this movie. It would work with less cynical audiences, but hey, we're Miamians....we KNOW BETTER

bpueb001
bpueb001

So I guess they're going to remove the urban music week that happens in south beach, since a lot of people get hurt there as well?

bpueb001
bpueb001

Ultra doesn't need to be taken out it just needs age restrictions.

Orlando Cala
Orlando Cala

The revenues made by ultra does not go to the city of miami, there for ultra should be moved and not allowed in Miami.

pipoenespanol
pipoenespanol

Marc Sarnoff es tremendo come pinga, ese tipo despingo a Coconut Grove. All he wants to do is eventually become mayor of Miami. That asshole needs to go away. Focking sapingo 

Elaine McCoy
Elaine McCoy

sorry to hear that,,,,ummm, any chance of tickets to see Lana del Ray???,,:))

James G. Camp
James G. Camp

So they'll hang this on a select few that were identified ? Security guards need to realize when they are ineffective and call in backup/police. Event security is just that, not empowered/sworn in to uphold laws ? Granted they have more authority than the general public, but recognizing the limitations is key to not getting trampled.

Alex Ferrin
Alex Ferrin

Well said Carlos! Everyone on here criticizing the police are a bunch of morons, the same morons that criticize when they do take action and split heads to keep order. Ultra was meant to be a venue for great music and a good time, but instead it's become a cest pool for assholes. If you're idiots are going to blame the police instead of the assholes then its only logical for the city to shut it down. Stop blaming the police and put the blame where it belongs on the individuals that get out of control otherwise you're just an idiot like Dan Marino

Christian Paez
Christian Paez

Fire the cop who killed the kid by a taser gun, then move forward

Mark McLaughlin
Mark McLaughlin

I hope they move ultra a then Miami realizes they just lost millions in revenue the following year.

Jorge Mederos
Jorge Mederos

Alex Henderson, that's absurd. People had no choice but to bum rush a fence and trample a person, because wait for it, THEY HAD TO WAIT 30 MINUTES TO GET INTO ULTRA?! They have the choice to act like civilized humans and WAIT.

Carlos A Salazar
Carlos A Salazar

Funny how everyone just lovesss to keep blaming the cops. Yup, not the kids at all. Lets just let our youth get used to the idea that we can all be assholes and self-centered and almost kill someone and ultimately it's the police fault and ultra for not putting up a fence. Yup, makes perfect sense. Smh the fact some of u are stuck on blaming it on the cops and ultra and not the people shows how much is wrong with humanity today. Btw i dont see how police corruption in Miami is slightly relevant to this. Also, i would love to see who u call when ure in trouble as im sure it could not be our "corrupt pigs". Always generalizing smh

Dan Marino
Dan Marino

I would say the police not doing anything and sitting there filming the whole scene so later they can sneer "see we told you this would happen" is VERY UNPROFESSIONAL, but what do you expect from one of the nation's most corrupt and unprofessional police force.

DrumRollPlease
DrumRollPlease

How much do off duty city officers cost, $100 to $200 an hour?  Lets be honest the police want to bill the crap out this to add to overtime and pension benefits.  The police never challenge events as dangerous or nuisances.  If they did all the nightclubs in Miami would be closed.  Hypocrites. 

Riselda Ruiz
Riselda Ruiz

Alex Henderson...boohoo. You're a victim because you had to wait 30 minutes? Ultra is a private event. Ultra is ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the event, not the police. Anyone ever hear of personal responsibilty? So much easier to blame others. You did have a choice, we all do.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Liberals are so predictable.


Blame everyone but the criminals.


The 1st thing the cops should have done is round up every fence jumper they can find and toss them in jail to rot.


Enrique Gustavo Fernandez
Enrique Gustavo Fernandez

It was not police arrogance that caused this it was spoiled punk kids who don't want to work for a ticket to get in.

Alex Henderson
Alex Henderson

Some of the youths? It was the polices arrogance that caused the trampling. They were mean, demanding and offered no reason for actions and for holding us...when dealing with a 1000 people all herded into a small area with no explanation and people pushing from behind you have no option but to move forward and no ability to help anyone on the floor. Literally saw the woman go down 10-15 feet to my right, couldn't get back and was worried about my own girl getting pushed down on top of the rails....a little information goes a long way, hope the police learned a lesson, not the people, we had no choice. They could have had a speaker system explaining the 30 minute hold....30 minutes with no reason why we were crammed and you have fucked up people pushing trying to go some where. Ndkdocospcifjd!!! If only the police spent this much time planning instead of just searching videos afterwards

George Hoover
George Hoover

How about they identify the officer who identified the breach in the fence and did absolutely nothing about it !!! #worthlessoverpaidpigs

Riselda Ruiz
Riselda Ruiz

A woman was trampled by a bunch of kids who cared more about getting to hear music without paying like everyone else, than about the human they were stomping on. Savages! And now some of you think the responsibility should be borne by the police? I sure hope that guard survives, and also sues the heck out of Ultra for ignoring what was made known to them as a problem. Furthermore, hold those who trampled her accountable. For shame!

Tatiana Amaro
Tatiana Amaro

Omg is there not anything else you people can be doing?!?

Omar Ghaffar
Omar Ghaffar

Above commenters don't understand the difference between public and private property. Cops can't force/compel Ultra to act, and the reason the festival secures the park is to avoid negligence liability. It's not on the cops - look up the rules. Just letting you know how this works, since I practice criminal law.

Evelyn Diaz
Evelyn Diaz

Who was killed in Calle Ocho ? Proceeds of Calle Ocho go to charity.

Marc Rosado
Marc Rosado

I wish our politicos and police departments acted this fervently about other issues where our citizens are constantly at risk of being or are killed like pedestrians and cyclists.

Carlos Spicy-Weiner
Carlos Spicy-Weiner

Somebody didn't get a kickback! Look at the incidents in Calle Ocho how bout they cancel that!!

Joe Matos
Joe Matos

I hope these kids get caught. Also if police noticed an issue with the security they should of re inspected the area before Ultra was allowed to open their gates. This is as much a Miami Police problem as it is Ultra. Doing a half ass job got this woman injured in the security breach.

Reuben DeOro
Reuben DeOro

Really Miami PD??? You guys should be liable for ACKNOWLEDGING YOU KNEW THE FENCE WOULD "NOT HOLD UP" & you all did NOTHING but let the festival go on.... I wish Miami PD would let me continue to smoke my joint after they smell it.. Or continue to be in the car without my seatbelt after spotting me.... You see what I'm getting at? Miami PD let's NOTHING slide, why did they let this one?

Raul A Maestri Jr.
Raul A Maestri Jr.

......how did it happen that only one security guard was assigned to that area? Knowing full well that it has been an issue before..... hmmmm?

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

Seriously?

You are blaming the police for your bad behavior?

pipoenespanol
pipoenespanol

@CThom He is a cock sucker (period) He has turned Coconut Grove into what crap it is now (period) Do you understand my "Ingles" now, Mr. C Thom? That pesky little electronic festival dropped $74 Million dollars into our economy in 4 days! How much money is the "Marlin's Park" costing the city. A project approved by our beloved fucking city commission. 

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