Category Archives: Legal

State Attorney Censures Officer

Florida’s Tenth Judicial Circuit has issued a “death letter” against a Bartow police officer based upon a social media post in November of last year. This should be yet another warning that police officers do not have First Amendment protections against opinionated, questionable, or inflammatory personal Internet postings. Ofc. Christina Arribas posted the following on Facebook under an alias name after the Presidential election: “Yes!!!! This year we lost two gorillas. One is in heaven, and one is moving out of the White House. One will be missed. One will not be.” Based upon this single post, State Attorney Brian Haas officially wrote to Ofc. Arribas that, “The evidence of … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Misc. | 2 Comments

Broward Deputy Cleared in “Stand Your Ground” Case

In December of 2015, I reported that Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza was indicted by a grand jury for manslaughter in an officer-involved shooting. He was the first Florida law enforcement officer charged for an OIS in 25 years. Today, Broward Circuit Judge Michael Usan ruled in favor of Dep. Peraza’s Stand Your Ground motion and dismissed the charge. In July of 2013, Dep. Peraza responded with other deputies to three 911 reports of an armed suspect walking in an apartment complex. The suspect refused to drop his rifle and did not comply with the deputies’ commands. Deputies and a witness stated that the suspect pointed his rifle toward … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Street | 3 Comments

Tampa Police Releases Body Cam Videos

The Tampa Police Department produced this short video of incidents from their recent body camera pilot program.  The video shows a bit of what we experience out on the street. Thank you, TPD. Randall

Posted in Legal, Media, Taser | 1 Comment

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Florida’s Death Penalty

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a ruling of 8-1, struck down Florida’s death penalty system, saying in their majority opinion that Florida judges play too great a role in sentencing while juries can only give recommendations. The court majority decided in Hurst v. Florida that, “The Sixth Amendment protects a defendant’s right to an impartial jury.  This right required Florida to base Timothy Hurst’s death sentence on a jury’s verdict, not a judge’s fact finding.  Florida’s sentencing scheme, which required the judge alone to find the existence of an aggravating circumstance, is therefore unconstitutional.”

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Florida Deputy Indicted for Manslaughter

Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Peter Peraza was indicted Friday by a grand jury for manslaughter in an on duty shooting. He is the first Florida law enforcement officer to be indicted by a grand jury since 1991 for an officer-involved shooting. In July of 2013, Dep. Peraza responded with other deputies to reports of an armed suspect walking in an apartment complex. The suspect refused to drop his rifle and did not comply with the deputies’ commands. Deputies stated that the suspect pointed his rifle toward them. He was shot and killed by Peraza, who fired three bullets. It was found that the suspect’s weapon was an unloaded air rifle. The … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Officer Safety, Street | 2 Comments

Chicago PD Murder Charges

I have watched Chicago PD’s officer-involved shooting video from October 2014.  A few things come to mind about the totality of the circumstances.  Officers are responding to a commercial burglary call where a suspect was detained by a citizen, but is now on foot in the urban area.  The suspect is armed with a knife.  He is now evading police on the street. The suspect sprinted through a fast food restaurant parking lot, stabbed the front tire of a police car, and damaged the windshield of another.  If you forward to 4:53 in the video time (not the PD time stamp), you get to the perspective of a cruiser entering … Continue reading

Posted in Knives, Legal, Media, Misc., Officer Safety, SWAT, Tactics | 4 Comments

Florida Open Carry Bills in the Legislature

Imagine you are working road patrol in your uniform and marked squad car at the scene of an urban disturbance when you see a man walking up behind you on a crowded sidewalk.  As he moves closer, you see he has a 9mm handgun in plain view, tucked into his waistband over his shirt.  You make eye contact, but, despite your unease, you cannot stop and ask him about the pistol because that would be against the law.  Does this make sense? Under 2015 Senate Bill 300, and its companion, House Bill 163, open carry of firearms would be legal in Florida if the person possesses a state-issued concealed carry … Continue reading

Posted in Concealed Carry, Firearms, Legal, Media, Officer Safety | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

New GPS Tracking Device Law in Florida

Oh, the Relentless March of Technology!  In a previous article, I wrote about Florida’s brand new Revenge Porn Statute.  Another recent piece of legislation is F.S.S. 934.425, which addresses the illegal use of electronic tracking devices. Four months ago, my Cyber Crimes detectives and I examined a GPS tracker that a victim said she found underneath her vehicle.  The suspect was her jealous soon-to-be-ex-husband.  She believed that he surreptitiously place it on the underside of her car’s frame rail to “spy on her.”  I will not discuss why here, but the facts and circumstances of the case precluded criminal charges, the new legislation notwithstanding. At the time of our report, … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Technology | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Florida’s New Revenge Porn Statute

Florida’s Revenge Porn statute, formally known as Sexual Cyberharassment, will take effect on October 1, 2015.  FSS 784.049 begins with the Legislature’s rationale for the law, that people have a right to privacy for explicit sexual images of themselves taken consensually.  It recognizes the harm that can come if the images are made public through the Internet. Following requisite legal definitions, the law makes it a first degree, probable cause misdemeanor to willfully and maliciously sexually cyberharass another person.  It is a third degree felony for a previously convicted sexual cyberharasser to commit a second or subsequent incident. The statute goes on to outline a victim’s right to receive injunctive … Continue reading

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New Florida Transient Occupant Law

The text is a bit lengthy, but I have pasted in the new Florida State Statute 82.045, which allows a law enforcement officer to remove transient occupants from a home at the owner’s request.  This has been gray area for the police when confronted with ejecting an unwanted guest from a dwelling where they had taken up temporary residence.  Generally, it has been practice to treat as a civil matter and tell the homeowner that they must start a lengthy eviction procedure to remove the persona non grata. The statute addresses factors a LEO may use to determine if a subject is a transient occupant, procedures for their removal, and … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Street | 3 Comments

Miami Beach PD Cracks Down on Messaging

Following a scandal involving 16 sworn officers over racist and sexist emails sent on city accounts, the Miami Beach Police Department has issued new policy requiring the recipients of any inappropriate emails, text messages, or social media postings to immediately report the communications to Internal Affairs. Although a policy had been in place punishing the senders who distribute such banned content, the new directive is aimed at receivers who do not comply and notify IA.  The scale of the original violations of policy and professional conduct apparently resulted in the zero tolerance stance. Former Maj. Angel Vazquez and former Capt. Alex Carulo were responsible for sending over 200 inflammatory emails … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Media, Misc., Politics | Tagged | 1 Comment

Sarasota Police Body Cameras Stalled

Despite the procurement of 24 body cameras by the Sarasota Police Department, the recording devices will not be worn by officers pending a lawsuit and proposed legislation in both houses of the Florida Legislature. A civil rights activist, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, is suing the city over the cost of a public records request for 84 hours of police video taken during the cameras’ test program.  SPD gave a price of $18,000 for compilation, review, and redaction of the videos per F.S.S. 119, the Florida Public Records law.  The ACLU contends it is an excessive charge. SPD Chief Bernadette Di Pino has also put the cameras on … Continue reading

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Deputy Arrested for Sending Photos of the Dead

A Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested on Thursday for sending his ex-girlfriend explicit photographs of two dead persons from crime scenes.  Austin Jeffrey Douglas violated Florida State Statute 406.136 (6a), which makes it a felony for the custodian of photographs, video, or audio recordings depicting the killing of a person to release them to anyone not authorized. Douglas told Internal Affairs detectives he sent the pictures of a gunshot suicide victim and photo of a dead man in a living room chair to his ex’s cell phone because he was having a “bad weekend.”  Investigators confirmed he had been at both scenes over the past weekend.  Austin was fired … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Misc., Off Duty | 2 Comments

Recording the Police: Hands Up 4 Justice App

Hands Up 4 Justice is an app that lets people record police/citizen encounters without the officer knowing that the user’s cell phone camera is active.  Although the message is that taping the interaction is innocent, the Hands Up 4 Justice Facebook page contains the following: “The App will allow you to secretly record any traffic stop & share & save the video online. In the event that you are detained or killed the video is safe” I am a little put off by the words “secretly” and “killed.”  This is more sinister than HU4J’s regular website, which gives helpful tips to app users such as: Make sure you have updated … Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Officer Safety, Street | 2 Comments

New Florida Child Restraint Changes in Effect Today

Changes to Florida’s Child Restraint requirements go into effect today.  Children under five years of age must now be transported in a federally approved separate carrier child seat, vehicle manufacturer’s integrated child seat, or belt-positioning booster seats while riding in a motor vehicle upon the roadways, streets, or highways of the State.  Previously four and five year olds could be restrained with just a seat belt. Section One of Florida State Statute 316.613 now reads: (1)(a) Every operator of a motor vehicle as defined in this section, while transporting a child in a motor vehicle operated on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, shall, if the child is 5 … Continue reading

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