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"I don't like this book because it don't got know pictures" Chief Rhorerer

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”
“It’s becoming a disturbingly familiar scene in America - mentally unstable cops”

Investigates dozens of lawsuits against OPD

9 Investigates discovered nearly three dozen lawsuits have been filed against Orlando police accusing them of excessive force or false arrest in recent years, costing taxpayers more than $1 million.

That total doesn't include a $90,000 federal jury award handed down just last week. That jury ruled in favor of a woman who said she was falsely arrested by Orlando police.

Channel 9's Ryan Hughes also learned Louis Cabeza, a man an OPD officer shot with a Taser and struck with a baton, plans to file a lawsuit against the department soon.

The incident with Cabeza happened at Blue Martini at the Mall at Millenia after, an officer said, Cabeza hit him in the chest and refused to be handcuffed.

Rough scenes like the video showing Cabeza getting hit with a baton have played out time and again in Orlando.

Hughes asked Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney about the incidents, some of which have led to costly lawsuits.

"Do you think, at times, some officers can be too forceful?" Hughes asked.

"I think, at times, we're human," Rooney responded. "And I'm not going to make any excuses."

Eyewitness News has reported on scores of lawsuits filed against the Orlando Police Department. City records show 32 citizens hit OPD with false arrest or excessive force lawsuits since 2009. And a total of $1.3 million in taxpayer money went to settlements or jury awards for 18 of those cases.

"Do you think that number says something about the police force here?" Hughes asked one local lawyer.

"It says they make a lot of false arrests," said attorney Howard Marks, who has represented some of those suing OPD. "I think they use force that's unnecessary."

Heather Hull sued OPD after she was shot with a Taser by an OPD officer at the Citrus Bowl in 2003. She won $80,000 in her case. Marks received two times that amount for attorney's costs.

In 2010, Daniel Daley's neck was broken by an OPD officer. A federal jury later awarded the elderly man $880,000.

Hughes learned that if a suit gets filed against a police department in state court, there is a $200,000 cap. But in federal court, a victim can be awarded any amount of money.

Orlando police are not alone when it comes to having these kinds of claims filed against its officers.

In Fort Lauderdale, which has 80,000 fewer residents than Orlando, there have been even more lawsuits filed against the city police: at least 50 in the past few years.

Back in Orlando, Rooney sees the lawsuits as a blip when compared to the 18,000 arrests made by his officers each year.

"When you look at 32 lawsuits over four or five years," Rooney said, "that's one-tenth of 1 percent."

He told Hughes that the department spends $120,000 on additional training each year.

"Computer-based training. We do training bulletins. We have our legal staff come in and do updates," Rooney explained.

Local attorneys agree that extra training is a must in order to lower the number of claims against the department.

"If you don't interfere with the behavior, it's not going to change, whether negative or positive," said Thomas Luka, another attorney who has sued the department in excessive force or false arrest cases.

Hughes reached out to several people who filed suits against OPD, but they didn't want to talk.

As for the officers involved in the cases 9 Investigates highlighted, they couldn't comment on the story. Many are still on the force after receiving little or no discipline.

Police officer charged in bogus arrest of NJ politician

It sounded like an excuse from a politician who had been caught doing something wrong: When New Jersey Assemblyman Paul Moriarty was accused of driving drunk last year, he said he had been set up by a rogue police officer.

But a Gloucester County grand jury believed him, and now it's the officer who's facing charges.
The Washington Township officer, Joseph DiBuonaventura, was indicted Wednesday on 14 counts, all accusing him of making a bogus arrest of Moriarty on July 31 and lying to support his claims.If the officer is convicted on all charges, including false swearing and falsifying evidence, he could be sentenced to decades in prison.

DiBuonaventura's lawyer, James Lynch, did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Thursday after the indictment was made public.
The officer was suspended without pay and charged by prosecutors last year. But Moriarty said in a statement Thursday that it's the indictment that validates him.
"I did nothing wrong that day. I was falsely arrested. My property was seized. My good name was tarnished," the Democratic lawmaker said. "I hope now that true justice can take place and my good name restored."
Moriarty says he did not have anything to drink the day he was arrested. Last year, he showed reporters a squad-car video of his arrest that he said showed he had done nothing wrong.
Before he entered politics, Moriarty was a Philadelphia television personality known for a consumer-affairs segment called "Can You Believe It?" He later became mayor of Washington Township.
His drunken-driving case has been put on hold while the case against DiBuonaventura moves ahead. 

Drugged and drunk cops, a national issue

A Williamson WVA Police officer is suspended without pay after State Police charged him with driving under the influence.Jefferson Taylor III, 23, was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident after troopers in Pike County, Kentucky say he crashed his cruiser before 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to court documents. Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel told us his department is conducting an internal investigation into the matter which will coincide with the Kentucky State Police investigation. 

The epidemic of mentally unstable cops in America: excessive force during an arrest.

The epidemic of mentally unstable cops in America: excessive force during an arrest.: Bowling Green, Kentucky : A former deputy and a city police officer have testified against a sheriff who is accused of using excessive for...

Do cops really need gun? Maybe we should rethink that policy

Las Vegas, Nevada: The police department’s Use of Force Board is recommending the firing of a police officer for shooting a man in the leg. He will have the opportunity to appeal the decision. ow.ly/kBX1p

Update: Portland, Oregon (First reported 04-12-13): The city will pay $2.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit filed after a police officer wounded a man when he mistakenly fired lethal rounds at him from a beanbag shotgun. The victim is now permanently disabled and narrowly escaped death only because there was a hospital nearby. ow.ly/kBtvx

Mitchell County, Iowa: A police officer has been put on administrative leave for an accidental shooting. The police chief says the officer was off duty while showing another man a personal weapon. ow.ly/kCeLh

 Colorado Springs, Colorado: A police department supervisor was arrested and is suspected of clocking in and accepting pay for hours he did not work. One of his reporting officers is said to have reported the discrepancies, triggering an investigation. ow.ly/kBSKt
Harford County, Maryland: A deputy who fired his weapon at a suspect who was fleeing the scene of an accident has been charged with reckless endangerment. ow.ly/kBvJm

Officer Suspended After Shooting
Osage, IA – An Osage officer has been put on paid suspension, after he accidentally shot a weapon.
One person was injured.
Officer Brad Evans, from the Osage Police Department, was off duty on Saturday morning when one of his weapons discharged.
A friend of Evans’ was shot in the hand when the weapon went off.
Mayor Steve Cooper says it’s an unfortunate event.
“Our main concern right now is number one he is a fine employee we don’t want to lose him as an employee but at the same time people need to understand there are ramifications for what they do on duty and off duty,” said Cooper.
The Chief of Police and City Council met tonight to discuss what disciplinary action should be taken against the officer.
Evans is now on un-paid suspension, and will have to be re-trained on handling a revolver.
He will also have to re-qualify for his marksmanship certification.
Evans is expected to return to work Friday evening.