Apopka police launch internal investigation over video

Video shows tense exchange between 2 men, Apopka officer


APOPKA, Fla. – A tense exchange caught on cellphone video between two men and an Apopka police officer has resulted in an internal investigation within the Police Department.

[Scroll below to see video ]

"Upon learning of the Facebook post, Chief Mike McKinley ordered the swift commencement of an internal investigation, to determine the facts surrounding the encounter," said Sgt. Ed Chittenden. "It should be noted that across Central Florida there has been an increase in burglaries to cellphone stores.  These two individuals were in a place and at a time that was unusual for someone to be, specifically in light of the increase in burglaries.

The video, recorded by Brandon Ocasio, shows Ocasio and Keith Niblack at a shopping plaza at 2434 E. Semoran Boulevard around 11 p.m. on Sept. 2, talking with an officer.

"I'm just sitting here waiting for my boss, I just want to go to work, that's it," Ocasio told the officer.

The officer wrote in her report that while on routine patrol she spotted the men sitting in front of the Cricket Wireless store.

"I then explained... how where they are waiting for a ride at is suspicious," wrote the officer. "Both males became rude and had an attitude."

Niblack admitted he was giving the police officer an attitude, but says only after she did as well.

"She should have said 'you know what guys, here's the Florida statute, it's after business hours, you're not supposed to be here,'" said Niblack. "And we wouldn't have this conversation now, we would have left."

"The difference here is the officers have a professional responsibility," said News 6 legal analyst Luis Calderon. "They are professional law enforcement and that behavior doesn't seem very professional."

In the video, the officer is heard saying, "I'm doing my job, I'm finding out what's going on."

Ocasio responds with, "That's cool, we told you that, it's OK, we're not bothering anyone, we're just trying to get to work ma'am."

The video ends when a supervisor arrives and forces Niblack to the ground.

"The males would not allow me to even explain to Sgt. Cheatham as to what took place prior to his arrival," wrote the officer. "Several other back up units arrive on scene. Keith continued to not listen to verbal commands and placed in a seated position on the curb. He continued to be confrontational and not listen to commands at which time he was placed into handcuffs."

Niblack says the supervisor pushed him to the ground before ordering him down.

"When he shows up is when I was on the phone with my manager, he's yelling at me to get off the phone, I'm like what?" said Niblack. "So giving me the chance to sit down, that didn't happen."

The officer said Niblack's boss admitted he was "out of hand" when he arrived to pick up Niblack and Ocasio.

Calderon said the officer did have the right to detain the men "if she found something to justify the belief that these individuals were loitering and prowling, that criminal was about to or had taken place, then continued detention would be appropriate."

"Physical force is used before the command is issued," said Calderon. "He's pushed down to the ground and then he's told to sit down, why wasn't it the other way around?"

"The Apopka Police Department will not be able to make further comment on this ongoing internal investigation," said Chittenden. "The body camera footage and investigation will be made available once the investigation is complete."

Facebook video with Apopka police

About the Author: