Charges dropped against Miramar police officer accused of strangling girlfriend during fight

Prosecutors dropped the charges Monday against a Miramar Police officer accused of strangling his girlfriend and knocking her phone away when she tried to call for help, citing a lack of cooperation from the victim.

It remains unclear whether the officer will return to his job.

Orlando Marrero, 24, was arrested at the home the couple were sharing in Hialeah last December on one count of domestic battery by strangulation. The Miami State Attorney’s Office later added a strong-arm robbery charge.

Prosecutors wrote in a close-out memo Tuesday that they had to drop the case because the victim never responded to multiple subpoenas and calls.

“The State had no other choice, but to dismiss the case because the victim, an essential witness, failed to appear for trial and previous mandatory subpoenas,” the memo concludes.

Marrero’s attorney, Stephan Lopez, said Tuesday that prosecutors had “overcharged” his client, particularly with the robbery count, for what he described as a heated altercation stemming from a break-up. The victim later submitted an affidavit saying that Marrero had never tried to rob her and asking that prosecutors drop the charges against him.

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“The charges being dropped is the right thing,” Lopez told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “We were ready for trial. The State was not; they asked for a continuance. The truth is they overcharged this case. This was a break-up; break-ups aren’t good.”

According to a probable cause affidavit, an off-duty Medley Police Department officer had seen Marrero and his girlfriend struggling outside of their home shortly before 6 p.m. on Dec. 17 and heard her yell, “Let me go!” Medley is a town in northwestern Miami-Dade County.

Marrero’s then-girlfriend told Hialeah Police detectives that the two had been arguing about breaking up; Marrero wanted to move out before Christmas. The situation escalated when she threw a computer mouse on the floor and broke it, according to the affidavit.

The victim said that Marrero grabbed her throat and she “began to see stars,” according to the affidavit. She tried to get away, but he had her in a headlock and was holding her from behind. She took out her cellphone to call her son for help, but Marrero knocked it out of her hands and down the stairs. When she went after the phone, he grabbed her again, she said.

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They continued to fight in the front yard. Marrero had his arms wrapped around her and she was yelling for him to let her go when the off-duty police officer saw and separated them, according to the affidavit. The victim had bruises on her arms and scratches on her shoulder blade. Marrero declined to provide a statement at the time and was arrested.

Lopez described Marrero Tuesday as a “young, shy kid” with no prior history. He said that prosecutors never proved that the bruises the victim had received were from Marrero, who also had bruises and scratches on his face. Footage from a Ring camera at the home did not show him being violent, he said. Rather, he argued that Marrero had been trying to exit the home as a result of the break-up and had held his girlfriend to try to deescalate the situation.

“My client was trying to leave,” Lopez said, “and the victim wouldn’t let him.”

The victim wrote in a non-prosecution affidavit filed in February that the two had lived together on and off for a year. Their relationship “grew apart because of trust issues,” she said, “and on the day in question things got out of hand, but he did not try to rob me.” She did not address the domestic battery by strangulation charge.

Marrero was ordered to stay away from the victim as a condition of his pre-trial release. She wrote in her affidavit that he had upheld the order, and asked for it to be revoked.

Marrero joined the Miramar Police Department in August 2022. Since his arrest, he has been suspended without pay, Lopez said, but now hopes to be reinstated.

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“It is important to emphasize that Officer Marrero, like all citizens, enjoys the presumption of innocence,” Miramar Police Chief Delrish Moss had said in the statement at the time of his arrest. “However, due to the gravity of the situation, we have been compelled to relieve him of duty while the investigation unfolds.”

A Miramar Police spokeswoman could not immediately say whether Marrero would return to his job.

“Like everyone who has presumption of innocence, once they maintain that presumption, they’re entitled to having their life restored,” Lopez said.

This is a developing story, so check back for updates. Click here to have breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.