ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando officer used a piece of wood confiscated from a homeless man to smash the windshield of a Ford Mustang that was driving downtown, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Records show Orlando police officer Gabriel Pagan was patrolling in the downtown area around 2 a.m. on July 17 when he took a two-by-four piece of wood from homeless man who was using it to hit and damage property.
Surveillance video showed Pagan riding off on his bicycle with the piece of wood in his hand, agents said.
Shortly after that encounter, Pagan was riding his bike in the center lane of Washington Street with a Ford Mustang driving behind him, records show.
Authorities said Pagan stopped his bike to the left side of the traffic lane, placed his kickstand down, got off his bike and used the wood to hit the windshield of the Mustang.
Pagan told other officers that the Mustang was revving its engine and driving aggressively toward him but surveillance video showed the vehicle had its brake lights on and was nearly stopped at the time of the incident, according to the report.
The driver told investigators that he was too terrified to stop when he realized what happened. He and his husband were visiting from Maryland and had rented the car.
“The first thing I was thinking was let me get out of here because I didn’t understand why an officer would break the window,” the driver told investigators. “All the things that were running through my head, nothing supported an officer breaking the window. I didn’t understand how that would apprehend a suspect. So it came across as a bit, very aggressive and I didn’t want to interact with that officer.”
Agents said a piece of glass went into the driver’s eye, which caused him to contract acute conjunctivitis.
The driver also said that Pagan never told him to stop or gave him any other verbal commands, records show.
Orlando Police Department officials said Friday they launched an internal affairs investigation after the allegations surfaced. The results of the preliminary investigation were given to FDLE, which then conducted its own investigation.
FDLE’s findings were given to the State Attorney’s Office. Officials there chose to file criminal charges.
Pagan was arrested on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of criminal mischief.
Pagan has been suspended with pay.