‘The worst day of my career:’ Orange County Jail chief reflects on changes made after hostage situation

Jail adds more officers, Tasers

Almost a year after arrestee Eric Stanley sneaked a gun into the Orange County Jail, according to investigators, Jail Chief Luis Quinones has made changes to ensure it never happens again.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Almost a year after arrestee Eric Stanley sneaked a gun into the Orange County Jail, according to investigators, Jail Chief Luis Quinones has made changes to ensure it never happens again.

Investigators said Stanley, brought to the jail by Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies on March 21, 2020, hid the loaded handgun in his waistband. Once he was inside the intake area waiting to walk through a body scanning machine, Stanley pulled out the gun and took a nurse, a deputy and a jail officer hostage, investigators said.

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Quinones watched the standoff unfold on the jail’s security cameras but could do nothing while the deputy negotiated for an hour and a half to end the standoff peacefully.

“Having the opportunity to watch this and not being able to get involved and protect staff was a feeling I never want to feel again in my life,” Quinones said.

After it was over, Quinones called it “by far this is the worst day of my career.”

“What we did first is look at the whole complete picture,” Quinones said. “It was called an after-action review of the incident.”

Eric Jefferson Stanley Jr. (Orange County Sheriff's Office)

According to the arrest report filed by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Stanley was brought into the jail’s Sally port wearing plastic flex-cuffs and was able to slip one hand out of the handcuffs.

Quinones has since banned plastic handcuffs inside the jail and mandated that jail officers replace any flex-cuffs with metal handcuffs.

All arrestees are now immediately put through the Secure Pass body scanning machine and scanned from both the front and back.

“What we realized through this incident is that there were times that an individual was not put through the Secure Pass immediately, they have an opportunity to wait as this individual did,” Quinones said. “And then while he was in line for the secure pass that’s when he pulled out the weapon.”

Arrestees are now patted down by either a female or male officer depending on the arrestee’s gender, even though an arrestee brought into the jail is supposed to have been already patted down.

An extra officer has been added to the intake area along with an additional surveillance camera.

Officers have been given Tasers.

And supervisors now monitor the intake area to limit the amount of arrestees entering the area.

Quinones said all supervisors have undergone racial equity training and the rest of the jail staff will get the same training.

All staff members have undergone cultural diversity training and chokeholds are no longer allowed unless the situation is life threatening.

“One thing I wanted to make sure is that we did not operate a jail where we warehouse inmates,” Quinones said. “All of our staff understands that we provide care, custody and control, and we treat the inmates with dignity at all times and nothing less.”

Quinones said the changes are getting results: during a pat-down, officers recently discovered another small loaded handgun inside an arrestee’s waistband. That arrestee was brought in by an FHP trooper, according to a jail spokesperson.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said after the hostage standoff last year, it did a thorough investigation and suspended the three deputies involved in arresting Stanley. All three were suspended for 40 hours and re-trained in proper search techniques.

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.