Parramore activist files complaint against Orlando police after stop, search
DeMarcus Womack says police illegally searched and harassed him
ORLANDO, Fla. – Community activist DeMarcus Womack filed a formal complaint against four Orlando Police officers first thing Thursday morning after he was stopped in Parramore the night before.
"Because I was wrongfully searched and I felt unsafe," Womack said.
Womack said he was with a group of about 30 people hanging out when a group of Orlando Police officers pulled up and began asking for identification. Womack, a community leader who even served on News 6's Generation Under Fire town hall panel, approached one officer to see why they were there and had no problems.
"I talked to him, I was like 'My biggest concern is not what y'all are doing, it's about how y'all are doing it,'" Womack said. "We had a respectful conversation just like you and I are talking, he got his point across and I got my point across and boom, he left it at that."
Womack was on his way home on his bike and officers were talking to his cousin when another officer stopped him. Womack didn't have the lights on his bike turned on.
"I said, 'You are right, I ain't got my lights on so I jumped off my bike,'" Womack said.
However, the officer still approached him and began patting down his waist.
"I wasn't committing no crime, I was no longer on the bike -- so what do you need to search me for?" he asked.
That's when the officer said he smelled like marijuana.
"It was after he went to search me that's when he to saying, 'Oh, there is a strong odor of marijuana,'" Womack said. "Right now you are stereotyping me."
Orlando Police released body camera footage of the moment in question Thursday. Deputy Chief Vince Ogburn said his officer had every right to stop and search Womack.
"He was stopped for his headlight out and as he was approached. The officer smelled marijuana and the officer did a pat down," said Ogburn. "They didn't search him. They did a pat down to check for weapons for officer safety reasons."
Ogburn also pointed out all of the officers' demeanor in the video.
"As you can see in the video, it wasn't in an aggressive manner. Nobody chased him. No one there threw him on the ground. No one had weapons or tasers or anything drawn," Ogburn said.
All remained calm while Womack admittedly grew more angry, yelling, calling the officers names for several minutes before later calming down.
"I'm yelling on camera, I'm in fear of my life," Womack said of being surrounded by the officers.
He feels like the way they came last night is not the right approach.
However, Orlando Police say they've stepped up presence at the request of other members and leaders in Parramore, and also following two murders in two months in the area, including a shooting just Wednesday night.
"That's what the members of the community wanted, a show of force -- or a show of presence by the officers that you are patrolling and we have not been neglected and we are here," Ogburn added.
An internal affairs investigation is now open.
Police didn't find any weapons or drugs on Womack and made no arrests in the group Wednesday night.
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