22 Jan 2012
Florida – A Melbourne police officer reprimanded for deliberately disabling the dashboard camera in his patrol car, before confronting a 66-year-old man suffering from dementia, could face additional scrutiny as the city prepares for a potential lawsuit.
Officer Derek Middendorf’s actions — captured on video later salvaged by technicians — are at the center of calls for his dismissal as a lawyer for Albert Flowers says he plans to file suit against the city for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
“He should be fired. Anyone who’s being pulled over by this officer should be terrified,” said attorney Paul Bross, who formally notified the city Tuesday of his intent to sue.
“It’s clear (Officer Middendorf) tried to destroy all the video in this case. He thought he had turned off the camera, and that’s why he acted the way he did.”
Case to be reviewed:
Melbourne City Attorney Paul Gougelman said the city’s risk management office and insurance providers will review the case to see what liability the city has for Flowers’ injuries.
The case also has attracted the attention of the South Brevard branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Flowers was hospitalized for a month after the confrontation with Middendorf.
“What I urge everybody to do is stand back and let the dust settle. There is always more to the story. It’s always important to have a good working relationship in the community,” Gougelman said, adding he planned to review the video.
The Brevard County State Attorney’s Office dropped charges against Flowers this week after learning Flowers had dementia, noting that the case would not have been filed had Flowers’ condition been made known earlier.