When first contacted by Politico for their recent article regarding Val Demmings I was asked if I was surprised that she is a potential vice-presidential candidate. My answer was that in my experience, when Val Demmings was chief of the Orlando Police Department, she had engaged in plenty of cover ups and displayed a troubling lack of accountability so she will fit right in with the political world.
I don’t engage much in politics, but when Politico called me asking me for comments on this subject, I felt obliged to share my experience with the Orlando Police Department when Val Demmings was chief. In 2007 when she was appointed, I had just left the Public Defender’s office to open my own firm. At that time I mainly did criminal defense work and I defended quite a lot of people who were falsely arrested, overcharged, and/or were mishandled with excessive force by the Orlando Police Department.
One case in particular was Jessica Asprilla. While leaving a club in downtown Orlando, she was pushed down the stairs by Orlando police officer Fernando Trinidad. Officer Trinidad lied in the arrest affidavit and stated that Jessica Asprilla spit on him and was intoxicated when she fell down the stairs. Ms. Asprilla was eventually arrested for Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer (a felony) and resisting an officer. Later, in a deposition, Officer Trinidad stated that she intentionally threw herself down the stairs. Which version Officer Trinidad’s accounts was true?Neither. Months after Jessica Asprilla was arrested and charged, a video of the entire incident was discovered which eventually exonerated her of both charges. The video did not show Jessica Asprilla intoxicated in any manner and it showed that Officer Trinidad pushed her while she was walking down the stairs at the night club. To make matters worse, as Jessica Asprilla was lying at the bottom of the stairs injured, Officer Trinidad walked right past her, not offering any aid. Most egrediously, the Orlando Police Department was in possession of this video and never turned it over to the State Attorney’s office so they could make a proper decision whether to charge Jessica Asprilla for the allegations made by Officer Trinidad. When a complaint was made by Jessica Asprilla against Officer Trinidad, (who had clearly lied in his arrest affidavit) what did the Orlando Police Department do…They took away one vacation day. That’s right, one day, from Officer Asprilla.
Jessica Asprilla’s case was just one of many when Val Demmings was chief of police. And yet despite video tape evidence which totally contradicted Orlando police officers’ allegations against people who were arrested and charged with crimes, Val Demmings would simply make excuses for her officers or say that the videos don’t depict what really happened. Val Demmings did not want people to believe what they saw with their own eyes. She wanted people to believe totally false allegations being made by her officers.
I will not render an opinion on whether Val Demmings would make a good vice-president or not. People can make their own opinion on that, but I encourage everyone to base their decision not only on her sound-bite worthy recent comments, but her actions as Orlando Police Chief as well.