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Miami-Dade police director talking after suicide attempt, union leader says

Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez has likely lost the use of his right eye but is expected to recover without brain damage.
 
Miami-Dade Police Department director Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez talks during the press conference at department headquarters in January 2020. Ramirez has likely lost the use of his right eye but appears to have escaped brain damage and is expected to recover after shooting himself in the head in an apparent suicide attempt in Hillsborough County on Sunday, according to the president of the agency’s largest police union.
Miami-Dade Police Department director Alfredo "Freddy" Ramirez talks during the press conference at department headquarters in January 2020. Ramirez has likely lost the use of his right eye but appears to have escaped brain damage and is expected to recover after shooting himself in the head in an apparent suicide attempt in Hillsborough County on Sunday, according to the president of the agency’s largest police union. [ DAVID SANTIAGO | Miami Herald ]
Published July 26, 2023|Updated July 26, 2023

Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez, who police say shot himself in the head Sunday night after an argument with his wife, has likely lost the use of his right eye but appears to have escaped brain damage and is expected to recover, according to the president of the agency’s largest police union.

Ramirez, 52, turned a gun on himself after stopping his vehicle on the shoulder of I-75 just south of Tampa. Law enforcement agencies investigating the shocking and still murky incident say it happened just hours after Ramirez got into a fight with his wife Jody that was so heated police were called to the Tampa hotel where the couple were attending a law enforcement convention.

Steadman Stahl, president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, said he visited with the Ramirez family at the hospital Monday night. Other sources also provided similar updates Tuesday on Ramirez’s condition.

“The family is devastated. But they’re close and they’re sticking together,” Stahl said. “The good news I heard is that he’s stable and he’s talking.”

Law enforcement agencies — Tampa police, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement — all have confirmed parts of the basic chronology of events surrounding the shooting. But many key details remained unclear two days later, including what sparked the argument between the long-married couple, who have four children — one who is a sergeant on the police force led by his father.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Tampa police said they were called to the downtown JW Marriott, which was hosting the Florida Sheriffs Association summer conference, around 6:30 p.m. Sunday by someone who said a man was outside the hotel was pointing a gun at himself.

The Hillsborough sheriff’s office, along and other sources said that prior to the call to Tampa police, the Ramirezes had been seen arguing inside the hotel. By the time officers got to the hotel, the couple was upstairs in their room on the 12th floor, police said. The officers waited for the couple to leave the room and when they did they told police they had been arguing, but that no weapon was ever used. Police said they left after Jody Ramirez told them she wasn’t concerned about her safety.

The shooting, police said, came hours later as the couple drove south — and after Ramirez had spoken by phone to several people, including Miami-Dade Mayor Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. It remained unclear why Ramirez decided to pull over and whether he fired inside the car or had stepped outside.

Multiple sources told The Miami Herald that after the incident at the hotel but before the shooting, Ramirez had contacted Levine Cava to discuss what happened. The director also reached out to Christian Ulvert, the campaign manager he shares with Levine Cava in the 2024 election cycle. Sources familiar with the conversations said Ramirez discussed how he would address what was likely to be an embarrassing situation as he embarked on a quest to become an elected senior member of the Levine Cava administration.

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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol are overseeing the investigation. The agencies have not responded to public records request to release information like incident reports, 911 calls and police body camera footage. A spokesperson at FDLE said it’s so backed up it could take “several months or longer.”

The Ramirezes have been married since 1993. One of their four children, a daughter, is attending medical school. Ramirez is a Democrat who has filed to run in the Democratic primary for sheriff in 2024. He’s a nearly three-decade veteran who has worked his way through almost every major unit in the department. He was named police director in 2020.

On Monday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava named Ramirez’s senior administrator Stephanie Daniels interim director of the agency’s 4,600 sworn and civilian employees. J.D. Patterson will resume his role as chief safety officer under the mayor, a role formerly undertaken by Ramirez.