By Brett Gillin
Orlando Police Chief John Mina has only been on the job for 13 months, and already he’s coming to the defense of his officers in the face of what’s turning in to a national controversy. Last week, several videos surfaced online showing a police officer repeatedly kicking a man sitting on a curb. As has been the case so much recently, reactions in the media, both social and professional, were quick and decisively on the side of the seated man. Through the multiple calls of police brutality and full-scale investigations, Chief Mina has allowed the officers to remain on duty and has come to their defense.
Of course, most major media outlets are covering the story as a clear-cut police brutality case. This report in CNN, tells the story from Noel Carter and his attorney’s angle. Carter, a 30-year-old banker who claims he was “beat like a dog” by the Orlando Police, is now filing formal complaints against the Orlando Police Department, demanding that the officers in the video are arrested.
“If it were you or I that kicked someone and used a weapon against them while they were sitting passively, we would be arrested,” Carter’s attorney Natalie Jackson told reporters. “That doesn’t happen to the police. I don’t have to tell citizens what they see. It’s there. It is the police who are asking us not to believe what we see on the tape.”
It seems, however, that police aren’t asking the public to not believe what they see on the video, but instead to realize that the video is only a small piece of what occurred that evening. Chief Mina defended his decision to leave his officers on the street to The Guardian.
“Based on what I know now, I have no reason to take them off the streets. What you see in the seconds of the video is only a small piece of what happened. Based on witnesses and officer reports it is clear that Carter was intoxicated, resisting officers, uncooperative and attempted to flee multiple times,” Mino told reporters.
Police reports claim that Carter was in an altercation with a woman who was breaking up with him. The report states that he continued fighting and attempted to grab and hold her after she broke up with him, causing the police to intervene. Officer David Cruz, who was off duty but moonlighting at a local club, then asked Carter to stand on the corner of the street while he interviewed the woman according to his statement.
The statement continues that when Cruz told Carter that he could not continue to speak with his now-ex-girlfriend, Carter responded “You’re not going to stop me.” Cruz then tried to handcuff Carter, who resisted arrest. Then, fellow officer Charles Mays, who was moonlighting along with Cruz, used pepper spray on Carter. The report claims that Carter was unfazed by the spray, so the officers deployed their Tasers multiple times, but Carter continued to resist. That’s when Carter broke free and ran from the police.
According to the police statement, when the officers caught Carter about 100 yards from their original arrest attempt, they ordered him to put his hands behind his back. Carter refused and lunged at the officers, striking Cruz in the chest and causing him to scrape his elbow and knee on the concrete. At this point, according to the officers, they turned to other means to subdue the officer.
“I decided to deliver foot strikes using the top of my foot, in order to maintain distance and in hopes Carter would comply,” Cruz said in his statement according to CNN. Then, Mays deployed his Taser one more time and Carter finally rolled onto his stomach and accepted his arrest.
Carter is facing charges of domestic battery, resisting arrest with and without violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer. To date, no charges have been brought against Mays or Cruz. In fact, The Orlando Sentinel reports that Sergeant Andrew Gillespie of the Orlando Police department has approved the officers’ use of force.
“All tactics and techniques were objectively reasonable given the number of different opportunities [Carter] had to give up and the multiple different techniques used,” Gillespie told the Orlando Sentinel. “I approve the response to resistance.”