Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City Council are still refusing to address an ongoing – and expensive – problem regarding the use of excessive force by the Orlando Police Department. Facing new lawsuits and growing community concerns, Mayor Dyer had Police Chief John Mina deliver a public relations presentation to City Commissioners before the last City Council meeting during an agenda review session. Of course, the public was not invited and the city chambers were empty, something noted by Commissioner Sam Ings who called for an evening town hall with the public included instead.
The public did show up during the actual City Council meeting to speak out about the most recent case of Orlando police brutality. The public comments put increased pressure of Chief Mina. But the case of Noel Carter, who was beaten, kicked and tased by OPD officers who were moonlighting for the Venue 578 downtown, is not Orlando’s first case of excessive force.
In the new video posted above, 15 different cases of police brutality by Orlando officers covered by the local news in the last year alone are highlighted. In March, WFTV reported 26 ongoing lawsuits against OPD related to officers’ behavior. Between 2010 and 2014, the Orlando Police Department paid out more than $3.3 million to settle lawsuits against officers.
Even Deputy Chief Robert Pigman, who reports directly to Chief Mina, lied in an investigation into his use of excessive force against a woman during a traffic stop. OPD settled the excessive force lawsuit for $100,000 and the victim’s lawyer said OPD did not want their deputy chief to admit on the stand that he lied in the investigation. Apparently, Chief Mina and Mayor Dyer did not care OPD’s Deputy Chief lied as Pigman remains in one of the most senior positions and also serves in the Investigative Services Bureau, despite lying while being investigated himself.
Commissioner Regina Hill, who represents District 5, was the only city commissioner to speak after public comments were made at the last Council meeting. “As I stated this morning, I believe in Chief Mina,” Hill said. “He has my support. He has done a great job with community policing. I don’t think that we should call for his resignation. And then again, I don’t condone violence by anyone.”
“I do know what I saw at the end of the [Noel Carter] incident and I don’t condone that,” Hill added.
But the Orlando City Council is ignoring an issue that is clearly neither new nor isolated. It is very likely taxpayers will be dishing out millions more to settle the ongoing lawsuits as well. Millions of dollars that could be spent improving our community, hiring new officers to increase public safety or helping our city budget. The silence from the Mayor and Commissioners is telling as the community becomes more concerned with each new lawsuit and allegation.
In just one day, this new video recapping recent cases of excessive force and police brutality in Orlando was viewed more than 2,000 times.
At some point, Mayor Dyer and City Commissioners are going to have to address this issue. The National Action Network Central Florida chapter has already called for Chief Mina’s resignation.
For full disclosure, I was a lead consultant on developing and releasing the video. The video was published on Orlando Unfiltered on Sunday. Truth Voice, an independent news agency dedicated to breaking the most important stories and publishing hard-hitting investigative journalism, also picked up the video and re-published.