After a five-month investigation into the excessive force claim by Deidra Reid and Reginald Lane Jr., the Professional Standards Division of the Orange County Sheriff's Office concluded that the officers used a reasonable amount of force.
Reid, who was 21 years old at the time, was arrested on July 20, 2015, for resisting an officer with violence and trespassing at The Retreat apartments after being warned to leave. Lane, who was then 20 years old, was arrested for resisting an officer and interfering with a law enforcement officer, both without violence.
The charges for Lane were dropped Sept. 1, 2015, and Reid's charges were dropped on Dec. 23, 2015, by the State Attorney's Office due to "insufficient evidence."
According to the investigation report and witness statements, Reid tried to enter The Retreat's clubhouse to see a friend and use the computer lab, but was unable to because she was not a resident and did not have a key. Reid then yelled at a child who was in the facilities to let her in — the child refused and ran to retrieve his father, who was in the clubhouse's gym.
One witness 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 investigation report.
The father was off-duty OCSO Sgt. Brett Parnell, who also served as one of the apartment's courtesy officers.
Reid claims that she was unaware Parnell was an officer because he was not wearing a badge. Witness reports vary on whether Parnell had a badge the first time he approached Reid; however, video evidence shows that Parnell retrieved his badge prior to engaging with Reid.
The report states that after Parnell confronted Reid for the first time, he went to his vehicle to obtain a trespass warning. During this time, Parnell called for backup by the complex's other courtesy officer and OCSO Deputy 1st Class Richard Nye.
Once Nye arrived on scene, Parnell claimed that Reid dropped into a fighting stance and rose to a "level 5/Aggressive Physical Resistance," which means the subject may cause harm, but is not likely to cause death.
“She bladed herself and closed her fist as if she was going to strike us,” Parnell said in the incident report according to a previous Future article.
When he arrived, Nye claimed that Reid began to back away and yell that she wasn't going to jail, so he began efforts to defuse the situation by asking Reid to calm down.
“He was not in police uniform, and when they approached me, they attacked me, pushed me up against the floor while sitting on my back and twisted my shoulder out of place while I was already in handcuffs,” Reid said in the citizen’s complaint form filed to OCSO according to a previous Future article.
When Nye attempted to subdue her, Reid began flailing, which Nye claimed led to him being hit in the face. At this point, witness statements say that Lane became increasingly aggressive.
“At that point in time, Nye came in and both of them pushed me into a fence and dropped me,” Reid said in a previous Future article.
The group began protesting the officers, and the level of excitement rose to a point considered dangerous by Nye, who then called for emergency back up and retrieved his less-lethal shotgun from his vehicle. Nye said this less-lethal shotgun used beanbags as ammunition. While recording the events, the report said Lane began acting aggressive.
Lane claimed that he was kneed in the groin by OCSO Deputy Kristine Helms, who arrived at the scene after Nye called for emergency backup. Multiple witness reports said that Helms did not knee Lane in the groin, but instead kneed him on the underside of his buttocks. This occurred while Helms was trying to subdue Lane, whom witnesses described as flailing and resisting arrest.
Lane was considered to have risen to a "Level 4/Active Resistance," meaning that he was capable of inflicting slight-to-moderate physical harm.
According to the report, both Lane and Reid's physical resistance was met with "Level 3/Physical Control (Take Down)," meant to limit the subject's physical resistance and facilitate the application of a restraint device, which in this instance were handcuffs.
The report stated that multiple witness testimonies contradicted Reid and Lane's excessive force claim. Witness reports also support that Reid and Lane refused to comply with the officers' verbal commands.
"Additionally, any injury supposedly incurred by Ms. Reid or Mr. Lane would have been avoided had they not physically resisted the attempts of the deputies to secure them and refused to follow the lawful commands of the deputies at the scene," the report states. "Any injured sustained would have resulted from their obstruction of the deputies' lawful actions."
Reid claimed that officers bent her arm to such an extreme degree that she suffered injuries requiring her to be on medication and drop out of school. Lane claimed that officers injured him by slamming him into the hood of a car after kneeing him in the groin.
“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,” Reid said in a previous Future article.
The report states that neither Reid or Lane provided the investigator with medical evidence of the injuries nor video evidence of the incident. The report shows the investigator requested Lane and Reid provide official verbal statements so they could analyze the events leading up to the arrests, but Reid, Lane and their lawyer Natalie Jackson ignored the requests.
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.