After the arrest of a Valencia student went viral, with many claiming excessive force, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday the officer in question was just doing his job.
Deidra Reid, 21, and Reginald Lane Jr., 20 — neither of whom are UCF students — were arrested July 20 afternoon at The Retreat on Colonial Drive after an altercation with off-duty officer Brett Parnell. A 15-second video shows Parnell forcing Reid to the ground with her hands behind her back while she screams for help.
Students took to Twitter with the hashtag #JusticeForDeidra in support of Reid.
However, OCSO Sheriff Jerry L. Demings said Parnell “did what he was hired to do” and was legally allowed to use force because he perceived Reid as a possible threat for refusing to leave the property.
“You can’t underestimate people. Just a year and a half ago an officer in our community was shot by a female,” Demings said.
He said the investigation is ongoing as investigators are currently compiling all video footage and evidence of Reid’s arrest. Demings asked for all copies of testimonies and unedited videos to be turned in to OCSO so the entirety of the incident can be seen.
But Reid’s lawyer Natalie Jackson refuted claims that Parnell was rightfully using his authority. A local chapter of the National Action Network was also present.
“Their futures have been threatened all before it even started all because some officer got mad his son was yelled at,” Jackson said at a separate conference Wednesday. “What we see on the video is force and it’s excessive force that was not needed for a 125-pound girl.”
Wearing a sling on her left arm, Reid added that she did not become aggressive with Parnell, and said the only thing she did was back up and toss her drink to the side as he confronted her.
“At that point in time, Nye came in and both of them pushed me into a fence and dropped me,” said Reid, who added that, since the incident, she’s been on medication and had to drop out of her last semester at Valencia College.
“I can’t write. I can’t go to work. I can’t drive. I really can’t do much. To think every morning how can certain people like that sleep at night with their families ... because I can’t,” said Reid as she addressed the crowd.
Jackson said Reid and her friends plan to file an official complaint form with OCSO, which will review both internal and criminal aspects of the case.
According to the arrest affidavit, witness Huguens Gustave said it all started after Reid, who is not a resident at The Retreat, yelled at Parnell’s son, who wouldn’t open the complex’s computer lab door for her. Witness Jacqueline Fernandez said she heard Reid yell at the boy, “Don’t you know that you are supposed to respect your elders? … Who raised you?” according to the report.
After the boy ran to his father in tears, Parnell retrieved his badge from his car, went to the clubhouse and told Reid she needed to leave. When she repeatedly refused, he went to his car again to call in another courtesy officer, Richard Nye.
Gustave said the off-duty officer asked for Reid for her ID, but she refused. She then told him her ID was in her car outside, according to the report. But when she tried to leave to retrieve it, Parnell blocked her path.
Parnell said Reid kept telling him not to touch her, though he said in the report he had yet to do so. She was accompanied by several black men and women, who began videotaping the incident while Parnell waited for Nye to arrive. When Nye got to the scene, Parnell claims Reid took a fighting stance.
“She bladed herself and closed her fist as if she was going to strike us,” he said in the report.
Nye told Reid to put her hands behind her back, and when she refused, he grabbed her left wrist and tried to put her arm behind her back but she began to pull away and twist.
In the report, Nye said while he was directing Reid to the ground, she struck him in the face. Gustave said he saw deputies arrest Reid after she elbowed an officer while being handcuffed.
Olivia Ferguson, witness and friend of Reid, said Reid was pushed to the ground with excessive force that appeared to dislocate her shoulder.
“You can see her arm about to pop out of place. She was screaming ‘Help! Help! My arm, my arm,’” Ferguson said. She added that deputies continued with aggressive force on Reid while she was screaming, “I’m not resisting arrest. It’s just my arm, please help!”
After both deputies were able to handcuff Reid, the group that accompanied her reportedly began to approach and refused to step back. Of the group, Parnell said Lane was especially aggressive in refusing to back away. Nye then called for emergency back-up. Once several units arrived, Nye directed them to take Lane into custody for interference.
Lane said all he was trying to do was help his friend, screaming to the officers, “Get off her! Get off!”
“I didn’t want anyone to die,” Lane said.
Ferguson said a back-up officer arrived on scene and started arresting her friends who were not involved. She said the officer approached Lane in an aggressive way and kneed him in the groan.
Reid and Lane were placed into separate patrol vehicles. While on the scene, Reid complained of shoulder pain and was examined by Orange County Fire Rescue. It was reported that she needed further evaluation and was transported to Florida Hospital East. The report states she and Lane were later taken to BRC.
Lane said the officer left him in the police vehicle outside the hospital, in pain, for about two hours.
Lane said he was locked in a cell around 10:40 p.m. and wasn’t bonded out until around 5 a.m. He was charged with the first-degree misdemeanor offense of resisting an officer, according to court records.
Reid was charged with first-degree misdemeanor and third-degree criminal felony offenses for resisting an officer and trespassing on property after warning.
“This is not justice at all,” Lane said. “I’m just outraged.”
Shanae Hardy is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaeH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.
Bridgette Norris is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @blogginbridge email her at BridgetteN@CentralFloridaFuture.com.