Miami-Dade police director handcuffed at Tampa hotel hours before he shot himself

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Tampa officers briefly handcuffed Miami-Dade County police director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez outside of his hotel room in response to a report Ramirez had threatened to kill himself, a tense encounter that came hours before he wounded himself with his own gun on the side of a highway.

An incident report released Wednesday afternoon offers the first details on Ramirez’s encounter with local police at a Tampa Marriott shortly before 7:00 p.m. on July 23 after an argument with his wife, Jody.

READ MORE: 911 call reveals horrific moments on the night Miami-Dade police director shot himself

What followed was an increasingly harrowing night for the Democratic candidate for sheriff that had him offer his resignation to Miami-Dade County’s mayor and then wound himself with his own gun sometime after 9 p.m. as the Ramirezes were driving back to Miami.

Tampa police said they decided to release Ramirez after he both denied brandishing his gun during an argument with Jody Ramirez and insisted he had no plans to harm himself or anyone else.

Jody Ramirez told officers the couple’s fight the police overheard from outside their hotel room shouldn’t be a concern, and that she had no worries about her safety.

“We probably got a little loud inside. Sorry,” a Tampa police report quotes Jody Ramirez as saying on the 12th floor of a Tampa Marriott, where they were staying for a Florida Sheriffs Association convention. “Thirty years married. I know what buttons to push, he knows what buttons to push.”

The report, which includes limited redactions, claims two local police agencies differed on whether Ramirez should be taken into custody to prevent him from harming himself.

Tampa officers concluded there were no grounds to hold Ramirez under Florida’s Baker Act law, which allows someone to be involuntarily confined on mental-health concerns. But the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office reached a different conclusion, according to the Tampa report, and announced plans to take Ramirez into custody.

READ MORE: Before he shot himself, Miami-Dade’s police director offered to resign, mayor says

In the report, the Tampa Police Department said a Hillsborough lieutenant contacted a city officer about the Ramirez incident. The lieutenant stated, according to the report, that senior staff at the Sheriff’s Office were conducting their own investigation with witnesses “and that they would be placing Alfredo under a Baker Act.”

A spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday her office had no immediate comment on the Tampa police report. It’s not known if Ramirez had contact with sheriff’s deputies or senior administrators from Hillsborough who were attending the convention as well.

One sheriff there, Pinellas County’s Bob Gualtieri, said he was in the room when the Hillsborough County lieutenant, Cason Ulmer, was in a speakerphone conversation with a Tampa police supervisor about Ramirez. Gualtieri, a leader of the association, said the two wanted more information about Tampa’s decision to not to use the Baker Act to take Ramirez into custody.

“I wanted to make sure we did extensive due diligence on this,” Gualtieri said. “Because I was concerned.”

After hearing about the lack of direct evidence and only “triple hearsay” about a suicide threat that Ramirez denied, Gualtieri said he concluded there was no legal basis to do anything but release Ramirez.

“There was, frankly, not a lot we could do,” he said. “Tampa made the right decision.”

READ MORE: Freddy Ramirez was known for being an even-tempered and compassionate cop. Then he snapped

The Tampa report contains no suggestion, third-hand or otherwise, that someone saw Freddy Ramirez engaged in a physical altercation with Jody Ramirez. The report said hotel security relayed that two unidentified people waved down an unnamed sheriff after witnessing a couple arguing outside the hotel, when the man “pulled out a firearm, put it to his head and stated he was going to ‘end it there.’ ”

But Tampa police said no names of the witnesses were provided. Security footage from the hotel also didn’t show the incident described, the report said. Ramirez denied pulling out his gun. Jody Ramirez at first told officers she couldn’t remember if her husband brandished his gun, then said he didn’t, according to the report.

“Due to the unconfirmed third-hand information, and no statements advising that anyone was a threat to themselves or others, it was determined that the male subject did not meet Baker Act criteria,” Tampa police wrote. “The male subject was then taken out of handcuffs and released.”

Gualtieri said he spoke to Ramirez both before the incident that sparked the police response, and after he had his encounter with Tampa officers.

At a reception for visiting sheriffs, Gualtieri said he spent about 30 minutes in a conversation with both Ramirezes. “They were cordial, pleasant, and interacted with each other,” he said. “Everything was normal.”

Gualtieri estimated the conversation ended around 6:20 p.m., and a 911 call from hotel security reporting a man with a gun out was placed at 6:33 p.m.

After the Tampa police left, Gualtieri said the association heard from hotel management that Ramirez had to leave following the allegation he had displayed a gun on hotel grounds. “I told him he needed to go,” Gualtieri said. “He said they would pack their things and they would leave.”

Miami Herald staff writer Charles Rabin contributed to this report.