ORLANDO, Fla. – Two Orlando police officers are under investigation for actions the state attorney calls inappropriate.
The officers arrested an 18-year-old outside Rosemont Park on Jan. 4 for what they said was resisting an officer, but after watching footage from a body-worn camera, Orlando police Chief John Mina said he’s concerned.
Nyejewel Burney and his friend left their apartment to walk to work when he said two officers followed them from the apartment complex.
Burney said his friend flipped a hand gesture at the officers, who said they were on “proactive patrol.”
The following conversation was recorded by an officer’s body-worn camera:
“We’re just driving by, and you want to flick us off like you’re a tough guy?”
“Freedom of speech, sir.”
“I’m sorry? That’s actually not speech, that’s a movement.”
“Freedom of movement.”
“And now you just jaywalked. Give me your ID. Get over here.”
The man’s friend was handcuffed moments later.
“It wasn’t like they just seen us and we just flicked them off,” Burney said. “They’d been following us the whole time.”
Another officer’s body-worn camera recorded the following:
“This is our traffic stop, you got to leave … You’re failing to leave. Now you’ve got to sit down. Now, you’re not free to go.”
Burney was arrested on charges off resisting an officer without violence.
“Put your hands behind your back. Stop resisting. Stop resisting.”
Orlando police Officer Kevin Lopez said he couldn’t see if Burney was concealing a weapon or contraband in his jacket, because his hands were in his pockets.
But State Attorney Aramis Ayala dropped the charge when she watched the footage.
She called the officers’ actions “inappropriate,” and her office contacted the Orlando Police Department with their concerns.
“Y’all wonder why people don’t like police now. Because y’all do s–t like this,” Burney said in the body-cam footage.
Mina said he also has serious concerns and has launched an investigation into officers Lopez and Fink.
“He was concerned to the point that he wanted to make sure that we as the community leaders were aware that he is dealing with this issue, and it will not be ignored,” said Bishop Kelvin Cobaris, a community activist.
“Hopefully, this will be, like, a lesson for other officers that you just can’t target people and get away with it every time,” Burney said.
He admits that he’s had run-ins with the law in the past, but he said he was trying to stay out of trouble up until the arrest.
“I thought it was just going to be swept under the rug like nothing ever happened,” Burney said.
Mina provided Channel 9 with the following statement Thursday:
“Upon my initial review of the body camera video, I have serious concerns about the interaction. Which is why I directed staff to launch an internal investigation to ensure a full and thorough investigation of the incident and determine if there was any violation of policy. Having access to this video footage is why we equipped our officers with body cameras to provide additional transparency and help us better understand what transpired during incidents from beginning to end. Mutual respect and trust between our officers and residents is paramount to the job our Orlando Police Department does every day to keep our community safe. We must ensure we build on that trust and hold our officers accountable if that trust is violated.”
Ayala provided Channel 9 with the following statement Friday:
“My office identified inappropriate conduct involving two OPD officers. As a result of reviewing the body cam footage, the case was immediately dropped. It is imperative prosecutors do not perpetuate injustice. We contacted OPD with our concerns and I look forward to reviewing the outcome of their inquiry into the matter.”