A settlement recently resolved the April 2013 wrongful arrest of Reginald Bletcher. Orlando Police Department officers were patrolling the area of Mercy Drive, in Orlando, Florida for a reported stolen vehicle. Officers spotted the unarmed Mr. Bletcher driving, followed him to his place of business and fired multiple Tasers and blasts of pepper spray at his face. After determining that Mr. Bletcher had absolutely nothing to do with the reported stolen vehicle, and was a business owner with no prior criminal history, officers still decided to charge Mr. Bletcher with two felony counts and one misdemeanor. The two felony counts were dismissed for insufficient probable cause at Mr. Bletcher’s first appearance, with the remaining misdemeanor count being dismissed by nolle prosequi by the Assistant State Attorney months later. Orlando civil rights attorney, Shayan H. Modarres, filed a seven-count federal lawsuit for civil rights violations on behalf of Mr. Bletcher which resulted in settlement over a year later. Mr. Bletcher is a law-abiding business owner that was traveling to his place of business and was not only mistaken for a suspect, but was brutally assaulted by police officers.
Although Mr. Bletcher is pleased with this settlement and feels vindicated, he continues to feel the effects of his wrongful arrest and the brutal nature in which it was executed. With millions of tax-payer dollars being paid in the form of verdicts and settlements for cases of police misconduct and excessive force over the past several years, we fervently hope that Chief Mina will be motivated by this case to reexamine OPD policies and procedures with regard to the use of force against Orlando citizens.
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