MOUNT DORA, Fla. – A man who barely survived a robbery and shooting has filed a federal lawsuit against the Mount Dora Police Department, claiming investigators misplaced evidence in the case, forcing prosecutors to drop charges against a suspect.
According to court records, Misael Ortiz was working on his car outside his home in Mount Dora two years ago when someone robbed him and shot him in the stomach.
"He was in a situation where he had to defend himself, his family and his kids," said Ortiz's wife Adelaida. "His life was flashing before his eyes."
She said doctors at Orlando Regional Medical Center gave her husband a two percent chance of surviving, placing him in intensive care for six months.
Court records show Mount Dora police arrested a suspect in the shooting, but in April, the Office of the State Attorney dropped the charges, explaining it was "due to law enforcement's failure to search the house in which the defendant was found."
In a lawsuit filed in federal court by the Ortiz family this week, the victim claims police "misplaced all evidence against my alleged attackers."
They said prosecutors told them electronic documents were lost in a system upgrade, and physical items vanished.
"I was upset. I was shocked. I was confused," said his wife. "I became panicky right away because we felt like we didn't mean anything. We were just like animals."
The lawsuit was filed the same day city leaders fired Mount Dora's police chief , and on Wednesday, the department said it couldn't comment on any of the allegations in the suit.
"What I had to go through from day one, we need justice. We need justice," said Ortiz's wife.
According to the lawsuit, the Ortiz family is seeking damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, but they told News 6 the main reason for filing it was to make sure this doesn't happen to another family.