FOX 29 Investigates: Philadelphia Detective Says She Lives In Fe - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

FOX 29 Investigates: Philadelphia Detective Says She Lives In Fear

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PHILADELPHIA - Erica Ortiz has patrolled the streets of Philly first as a beat cop and now as a detective for a decade.

"I'm a great cop," said Ortiz.

She says she's an aggressive enforcer of the law.

When FOX 29's Jeff Cole asked Ortiz if she likes to lock up offenders, she said, "I love to lock up offenders and chase them down."

However, the 32-year-old veteran cop, who works overnights, says she lives in fear.

"I work at night. I'm very afraid when I leave my house at night because my block is an open area. I'm very, very afraid to leave my house at night," said Ortiz.

She's fearful not of a "perp" she has arrested and jailed, but of her estranged husband, Ernest Griffin, who is also a veteran of the city police force.

She claims Griffin has been repeatedly violent.

When asked how he's been violent towards her, Ortiz said, "He's hit me, he's given me black eyes. He's dragged me down steps. He's hit me with our child in my arms, pummeled me, kicked me."

Ortiz and Griffin married about seven years ago, but separated after just a few months.

They're still married with plans to divorce and contentiously share custody of a young boy.

"He's threatened to kill me, and kill himself if he gets in trouble at work," said Ortiz.

Asked if she carries her weapon on her, she said, "At all times now. Before, I never did, but now, I carry it all the time."

"Listen, she's alleged you hit her," Cole asked.

"If I hit her, don't you believe I'd be in handcuffs right now?" said Ernest Griffin.

Ernest Griffin, a 16-year Philly street cop, says he's being falsely accused.

"You did not abuse Detective Ortiz in any way, you didn't hit her, you didn't punch her?" asked Cole.

"Not at all," said Griffin.

"You haven't pummeled her, or given her black eyes or any of this stuff?" asked Cole.

"Not at all sir, not at all," said Griffin.

The ugly domestic dispute has found its way to city police headquarters. That's where Officer Ernest Griffin, pulled-off the street, has spent the past two years earning his full salary $66,000 a year while answering phones in the basement. He says the department has taken his police pistol and two private guns.

"Why are you down there?" asked Cole.

"False allegations of abuse for two years," said Griffin.

"From Erica?" asked Cole.

"Yes, I've been accused for two years of these charges, and they're totally false," said Griffin.

"But if they're totally false, why would they have you downstairs without your gun just answering phones?" asked Cole.

"Basically, there's still an investigation," said Griffin.

The story of this troubled relationship is spelled-out in Family Court records given to FOX 29 Investigates by Detective Ortiz.

The court documents refer to "a long history of harassment, stalking and physical violence" of Griffin against Ortiz, including claims of Ortiz being "punched and kicked" in their home and being knocked down in her doorway in July of 2009 ,when Ortiz told police Griffin threw a punch during an argument.

A man says he witnessed the ugly incident between Ortiz and Griffin in the doorway of a home with Ortiz's father in the middle. He asked FOX 29 to hide his face.

"At some point you see him throw a punch?" asked Cole.

"Oh, yes," said the witness.

"After her father gives him a little shove, said back-off, he lifted his arm, cocked it back and slam, hit her right in the face. She dropped," said the witness.

"What did you think?" asked Cole.

"I was just shocked. I couldn't believe it was happening," said the witness.

Erica Ortiz did not press criminal charges against Griffin for the alleged assault. In fact, police have never criminally charged him.

Ortiz says she believed Griffin was only temporarily upset and she didn't want to have to explain to their son he was fired for hitting her.

Philadelphia police tell FOX 29 Investigates they never knew there was a witness to the alleged violence against Ortiz. Ortiz remembers giving them his name and number.

"I've been filing complaints against him since 2009, and nothing has been happening," she said.

Police have asked FOX 29 to provide the witness with the phone number to Internal Affairs.

The family court documents also reveal Officer Griffin was suspended from duty when he pleaded guilty in a police internal affairs probe to "abuse of power" and providing "false statements to investigators" when in November of 2009, he pulled-over a vehicle with Ortiz's ex-boyfriend inside.

Griffin would not comment on that case.

The court records also show in 2011 and again in January of 2012, a judge placed a "Temporary Protection from Abuse Order" on Griffin ordering him to say away from Ortiz.

As for the punch, Griffin denies it.

"Absolutely not," Griffin said. "We went to court, and all of this has been settled in court. Everything has been settled in court. I've been cleared of everything."

While a recent Family Court ruling has gone in Officer Griffin's favor, Philadelphia police say they're still investigating him.

In January, Philadelphia Family Court Judge Ida Chen dropped the temporary protection from violence order Ortiz had against Griffin.

The court did not return a call for comment.

A spokesperson for Philadelphia Police tells FOX 29 that Officer Griffin remains the subject of an "on going investigations of all the domestic allegations."

The spokesperson added "they are very active investigations."

Griffin said he's "sitting on the sidelines" while false accusations continue to be made against him. He said they're "totally false," adding, "Internal Affairs is aware of this."

Asked why Ortiz is doing this, Griffin said, "Because she knows people higher up in the police department, sir."

 "I don't know what else to do. I barely sleep. I sleep on my couch by the front door because I'm scared he's going to break in my house. I don't know what else to do at this point -- to protect myself," said Ortiz.

The "Temporary Protection From Abuse Order" has been dropped, in part, says Detective Ortiz, because the Judge didn't believe some of her testimony.

As for Officer Griffin, he's still answering phones in the basement of the headquarters.
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