Florida Cop Fired After Citizen Journalist Sends Video to PINAC,
An anonymous, reader submitted video to PINAC showing a citizen journalist boldly confronting an off-duty officer parked on the side of the road in an unmarked car with concealed warning lights illuminated.
The individual behind the camera was initially off put by the officer’s North Carolina license plate in South Florida as well as the fact that the truck was not marked as a law enforcement vehicle.
Our inquisitive citizen began to question the alleged officer’s legitimacy, eliciting a flustered, angry response from the alleged law enforcement officer, who was quick to deflect the probing questions.
As PINAC’s Chief Investigator, I viewed the video and contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to confirm that this fellow is indeed a state law enforcement officer as he had claimed in the video after pulling out his badge.
I also wanted to confirm his authorization to work an off-duty assignment in what appears to be a privately owned vehicle, so I sent the video to the FWC with a set of questions.
His name turned out to be Manual Padilla and he has since been fired.
In order to encourage citizens to educate themselves more on public records rights, I have included my first email to the media relations staff at the FWC to demonstrate the process:
I am placing this media inquiry as to address a Youtube video , in which an individual identifies himself as a State of Florida Law Enforcement Officer. In the video captions read that the uniformed male in the Non Marked Vehicle (POV?) as Manuel Padilla as reserve officer with the FWC.Please answer the following questions?1. Who is the individual identified as Manuel Padilla?2. Is this vehicle owned by the State of Florida? North Carolina CLP-6438 Checy Z71 (frame 00:05)3.What is this individuals employment status, from question #1?4. What is his date of hire?, academy graduation date? and previous law enforcement employment?5. What is the FWC’s policy in relation to off-duty employment and use of State Equipment?6. What is the level of discipline to be applied, if the individual in the video is in violation of any Florida Statutes or Employment Policies or Practices?If possible please prepare a media release or treat this inquiry as an Official as to Misconduct and Malfeasance of a Sworn Law Enforcement Officer and the steps that will be taken to address the identified issues.Thanks,Felipe HemmingPINAC News
This was response from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission:
Who is the individual identified as Manuel Padilla?
Manuel Padilla is a retired officer of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Is this vehicle owned by the State of Florida? North Carolina CLP-6438 Checy Z71 (frame 00:05)
The vehicle in question is not owned by the state of Florida.
What is this individuals employment status, from question #1?
At the time of the incident, he was a Reserve Officer 1.
What is his date of hire?, academy graduation date? and previous law enforcement employment?
He was hired on 2/27/1984 to attend the Florida Marine Patrol Academy #5. He graduated on 6/4/1984. We do not have any information on his previous law enforcement employment.
What is the FWC’s policy in relation to off-duty employment and use of State Equipment?
Pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between the State of Florida and the Florida PBA, use of FWC law enforcement equipment may be approved for law enforcement extra duty and hire-back.
What is the level of discipline to be applied, if the individual in the video is in violation of any Florida Statutes or Employment Policies or Practices?
At the time of the incident, Reserve Officer Padilla was working off-duty and was not authorized to use his personal vehicle. As a result, his appointment as a Reserve Law Enforcement Officer with FWC was revoked.
I look forward to more reader submissions and helping to a create a culture of accountability for law enforcement officers.