The pressure is building on Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioners to comment and respond to the latest excessive force allegations against the Orlando Police Department. Noel Carter joined his attorney Natalie Jackson as well as several community organizations and concerned citizens at City Hall this week to respond to comments from Police Chief John Mina and to respond to the use of excessive force against him while visiting downtown.
Video evidence shows Noel Carter was kicked, beaten and tased by two Orlando police officers who were moonlighting for the Venue 578, a club downtown. After a press conference outside of City Hall on Monday, many who were rallying attended the City Council meeting to testify before Mayor Dyer and City Commissioners during general public comments.
But Dyer and City Commissioners do not want public comments to be…public. The City of Orlando actually turns off the live video feeds and refuses to broadcast or post public comments online. The following are public comments from June 15th, obtained through a public records request, that the Orlando City Council did not want the public to view. Clearly, this is not the narrative Dyer or other local officials want being discussed.
Noel Carter spoke directly to the City Council and defended himself from comments made by Chief Mina against him in the media. “Chief Mina has made it his personal agenda to assassinate my character – to demonize me at any opportunity seen fit,” Carter told the City Council.
“I am here today to refute the charges against me,” he said. “Through the media and the Orlando Police Department, I have been characterized as a criminal and unfit member of society. These allegations couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Mr. Carter called statements by Orlando Police “egregious lies” being told to cover up a lack of control, restraint and professionalism.
Carter’s attorney Natalie Jackson also addressed the City Council and announced an information gathering phase of her investigation into the use of excessive force against her client. Jackson responded to City Commissioners’ comments and urged the City Council to get engaged and work with the community on immediate and long-term changes.
“By now we’ve all seen the video of Noel Carter sitting passively on the curb being kicked, beaten, tased by Orlando police officers David Cruz and Charles Mays,” attorney Jackson started her comments. “We want to know what the city leadership is going to do to re-instill confidence in the public.”
“In these cases, we expect our government and the people we’ve elected to protect us and our rights,” Jackson told the Mayor and Commissioners. But Jackson also called out the tactics by Chief Mina and OPD by saying, “we have a police department that gets on television and demonizes the suspect, who hasn’t had a trial – hasn’t had anything proven wrong.” She continued stating OPD “went on to defame Noel Carter.”
Jackson called on the City Council to establish a “zero tolerance policy when it comes to the excessive force against citizens by police.” She also called for more transparency, written and concrete policies as well as an evening community town hall meeting to allow citizens to respond to officials.
Police Chief Mina came under even more increased scrutiny, with the National Action Network Central Florida Chapter calling for his resignation. The call for Chief Mina to step aside comes after several recent incidents involving the use of excessive force by OPD officers and growing community concerns. The story has now gone national – even making CNN – and there are no signs it will slow down as attorney Jackson’s information gathering stage continues.
Longtime Orlando resident Elbert Dudley called out the Mayor and City Council directly. “What you all are doing is reversing what Robin Hood did – taking from the poor and giving to the rich.”
On the recent case of police brutality, Mr. Dudley reflected on his own upbringing. “Even I, as a child, was taught: keep your feet on the ground, they’re not for kicking, they’re for walking,” he told City Council. “Evidently, this officer didn’t know that.”
Mr. Dudley called for a stronger community Police Review Board and insisted it would need to be “one with teeth.” He called on local officers to attend different academies that are more minority-oriented and have more minority involvement.
Ezell Harris spoke about his own ongoing six-year case involving Orlando Police and called out larger issues of corruption and abuses. Harris stated he has asked the U.S. Attorney General for an investigation into the Orlando Police Department for systemic corruption and civil rights abuses. Cathy Hedinger shared her own experience as a child visiting and interacting with officers and emphasized the need for community trust. She also warned about pervasive racism and systemic policies targeting minorities and warned the Council: “Tourists are going to realize what we are doing to our community.”
Orlando Unfiltered is featuring the public comment videos from the June 15th Orlando City Council meeting regarding the use of excessive force by local police and growing community concerns.