After more than two dozen complaints — ranging from unprofessional behavior to excessive force — in a 3 1/2-year period, Orlando Police Officer Michael Favorit Jr. was fired in July 2016.
But he was rehired nearly a year later and is now assigned to Orlando International Airport, where officers who are “too often in the limelight” are sometimes sent to work, Chief John Mina said. Interactions at the airport are less about enforcement and more about customer service, he added.
“I think it will help his career,” Mina said, adding that the assignment will be temporary.
Hundreds of pages of police documents reveal 25 citizen complaints and police internal affairs investigations of Favorit’s behavior from 2013 to April 2016, a number the chief called high and “concerning.”
Favorit, who started at OPD five years ago, declined to comment.
Mina said there’s no average number for complaints per officer, and it often varies, depending on where the officer is assigned. But in 2016, the department looked into about 230 written complaints and conducted internal affairs investigations against the agency’s more than 700 sworn officers, about 450 of whom are first responders.
Favorit was not disciplined for any complaints until he was fired last year after an investigation concluded he and another officer went on an unauthorized chase in December 2015, then tried to cover it up. The city gave him his job back in May, after Mina said it was clear an arbitrator was likely to order the city do so with back pay.
He said Favorit was “counseled” by his superiors, had a meeting with a deputy chief and was issued a body camera. Mina said most of the complaints were minor, proven to be false or were Favorit’s word against the citizen’s.
He said Favorit, 29, whose father retired from the department as a captain in 2014, is an “aggressive officer” who made many arrests and took several guns and drugs off the streets. Mina remembered sending Favorit kudos for good police work after reading reports.
“The more interactions with the public, the chances are the more complaints you are going to have,” he said. “[But] I do find the amount of complaints concerning.”
John DeCarlo, a retired police chief and criminal justice professor at the University of New Haven, reviewed some of the complaints and said Favorit “obviously has a bad attitude.”
He said OPD has a good reputation in the law enforcement industry.
“I’m wondering ‘How did this guy slip through the cracks?’ ” DeCarlo said.
Shawn Dunlap, president of Orlando’s Fraternal Order of Police, defended Favorit, saying he had a lot of complaints because he was making a lot of arrests in high-crime areas.
“If you’re not getting complaints, you probably are not working very hard,” he said. “People getting arrested are going to complain.”
But records show some complaints came from victims of crime, business owners and employees at the juvenile detention center.
In one instance, according to a complainant in a report, Favorit and another officer carelessly investigated a burglary alarm to a business.
Thinking there was no break-in at a convenience store at 4100 Booker Street in 2013, Favorit was captured on video making a paper airplane out of a false alarm notice and throwing it out the patrol-car window, the report said. Further investigation showed there was a burglary — the thieves entered through the roof and stole $3,500 worth of merchandise.
Security footage shows a deputy throwing a ticket folded into a paper airplane out his vehicle window.
His supervisor later noted the point of entry would have been obvious had the officers just taken a few steps away from the building, according to the report.
Favorit was admonished by his boss, but neither he nor his partner, Officer Umid Rakhimov, were disciplined.
A 2014 complaint was filed by employees at the Juvenile Assessment Center because they were concerned about the way he handled an uncooperative inmate and said he was rude to them.
Niyah Owens, an intake employee at the facility, told internal affairs investigators that she was “extremely uncomfortable with [the inmate] leaving” to go to the hospital with him because the 17-year-old girl was fearful.
Owens also said Favorit shoved the girl into the wall, but a video showed she was trying to get away.
Internal affairs exonerated Favorit of excessive force and could not conclude whether he was hostile.
In another complaint, Donta Coffie said he was riding his bike in May 2013 on Deerock Drive near Lescot Lane when he was stopped by Favorit and Rakhimov for riding without having his hands on the handle bars.
Donta Coffie was stopped by Orlando police officer Michael Favorit for not having at least one hand on the handlebars. He said Favorit pepper sprayed him and pushed him off the bike. Coffie filed a complaint with the department, but Favorit was not punished.
Coffie said he was getting his phone out of his pocket when the officers told him to show them his hands.
Favorit wrote in his police report that Coffie wasn’t listening to his commands, so he was placed under arrest. Coffie said he was pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground.
“I don’t know why I’m being arrested,” he told the Orlando Sentinel he remembered thinking. “I feel like you are putting your handcuffs on me for no reason. I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Coffie was charged with resisting arrest without violence, which was later dismissed because of a lack of evidence, and received a ticket for riding a bike without handle bars.