By Roger Caldwell, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Dyer and Mina “supported, justified, condoned, and otherwise ratified” Orlando police officers David Cruz’s and Charles Mays’ actions through the agency’s use of force policy and failing to discipline officers for such incidents, the suit claims. Excessive force was the policy that Mayor Buddy Dyer and then Chief John Mina, who is now the Sheriff of Orange County, Fla, condoned in the Orlando Police Department. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation “covered up” the Departments’ actions.

During an arrest in 2015 of bank department executive, Noel Carter, who happens to be a Black man was viciously and brutally beaten along Orange Avenue early in the morning. This gentleman was kicked, pepper sprayed, beaten and stunned multiple times with a Taser by two Orlando police officers David Cruz and Charles Mays.

John Mina, Former Orlando Police Chief, and video of the arrest incident. (Photo: CNN)

“Video of Carter’s arrest, which was captured by a resident in an Orange Avenue apartment and by security cameras outside the Orlando Sentinel’s office, drew widespread criticism of the officers’ use of force. The footage showed Cruz and Mays kicking Carter as he lay on a sidewalk,” says Tess Sheets – reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.

It was obvious that Mayor Dyer and Chief Mina did not care about the treatment that a Black man received by the Orlando Police Department. This incident would be swept under the rug. If a police person knows there is no penalty for excessive force to people of color that becomes the policy and no reason to stop that behavior.

Last week, in a federal lawsuit in Florida’s Middle District, “Noel Carter claims he suffered constitutional deprivations, emotional and physical damages when police officers David Cruz and Charles Mays used excessive force on him during the June 4, 2015 arrest. The suit also alleges Dyer and then – OPD Chief John Mina acted with deliberate indifference by failing to implement an adequate use of a force policy that would prevent excessive force,” reported Tess Sheets.

Many residents in Orlando know in the Black and Hispanic communities, excessive force and police brutality is an ongoing issue, and the mayor acts as if it does not exist. Between 2010 and 2014, the Orlando Police Department paid out more than $3.3 million to settle lawsuits against officers for excessive force and police brutality.

The mayor and the city council are ignoring an issue that is neither new nor isolated. Over a series of months in 2015, The National Action Network of Central Florida called for Chief Mina’s resignation many times, but it appeared that the community kept forgetting the way they were treated in the streets.

Just recently, members of Orlando’s civilian police oversight board agreed with the Police Department’s decision to discipline an officer who kicked a 13-year old boy in the chest during an arrest. It has been discovered by another officer’s body camera that the 13-year old boy was in a “position of submission” when the officer kicked him. They also agreed to discipline another officer, who failed to turn on his body camera during a shooting one month later.

There is a fundamental problem in the Orlando Police Department that started with Mayor Dryer and continued with Chief Mina. There are still some issues that exist with the current chief, Orlando Rolón,whose performance can’t really be judged because he has only been on the job for five months.

Many of the officers don’t care how people of color are treated; therefore, it is time for a change at the top with Mayor Dyer. For 16 years, there has been lies and cover ups, and the dirt is so deep, it is time to clean house.

When only less than 20% of the registered voters vote in an election, it is time for the people to let their voices be heard, and vote. The silence from the residents in Orlando is appalling, and it is time to put pressure on Mayor Buddy Dyer and now Sheriff John Mina.

No one really knows how many ongoing lawsuits exist against Dyer and Mina, because everything is swept under the rug. Millions of tax dollars are being used to settle lawsuits, which could be used to improve our communities and the local transit system.

The opinions on this page are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the AFRO.
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