SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – The arrest of an 18-year-old cyclist for running a stop sign and not stopping for a Seminole County deputy has advocates demanding an apology and for the charges to be dropped.
Seminole County Sheriff’s deputies said two young men on bicycles ran a stop sign at the corner of Florida Avenue and Van Arsdale Street near Oviedo on Saturday.
A deputy was at the corner doing traffic enforcement.
The deputy wrote in his report that he yelled for the riders to stop but they “smiled and continued,” and turned to “look back at me, acknowledging my presence and my command.”
The deputy said he got into his patrol truck, turned on his lights and sirens, pulled alongside the riders and continued yelling for them to stop.
“The males looked at me and the male wearing the yellow shirt looked at me and put his hand up,” according to the report.
The deputy pulled in front of the riders and slowed his truck "in a safe manner with ample room for them to safely park their bicycles."
“The males finally stopped their bicycles,” the deputy wrote.
The deputy said he then attempted to handcuff Javier Lopez Ayala, 18, writing he was fleeing and eluding.
“The male was standing with the bicycle between his legs. I began to grab the defendant’s arms and attempt to handcuff him,” the deputy wrote. "The male pulled his arms away from me, attempting to defeat my efforts to handcuff him. I told the male to stop resisting. The male continued to try and pull away from me but I was able to control and defeat his efforts. I gave the defendant another command to stop resisting and stop pulling away from me. I finally was able to place the defendant into handcuffs.”
The deputy arrested Lopez for resisting arrest without violence and fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer.
Lopez Ayala’s family representative, Rachael Maney, national director of Bike Law, a national network of independently practicing bicycle crash attorneys, is demanding an apology.
“I think people are people and people make mistakes,” Maney said. “And when people make mistakes the right thing to do is apologize and try to correct the wrongdoing.”
Maney said the young men simply didn't hear the deputy's commands.
"That's my personal belief as a cyclist," Maney said. "For anybody who rides a bicycle, it's very easy to recognize that when you're going upwards of 25 miles an hour on a day that is windy that you wear a beanie or balaclava under your a helmet, it's very difficult to hear what someone is saying to you when they are stationary and you are accelerating into an interval."
Maney said Lopez Ayala and his friend were leading the pack of about 12 riders who ride together in rural Seminole County every Saturday.
Maney said she also wants to know why only Lopez Ayala, who moved to Central Florida from Puerto Rico last year, was arrested.
“Of course it’s concerning, the optics ... they’re not great,” Maney said. “You know if you got two people who were riding together that made a left-hand turn at the same time that were stopped at the same time and that seemed to have the same story about what transpired.”
Maney didn’t know if Lopez Ayala actually stopped at the stop sign.
She said Bike Law got involved “because an 18-year-old boy was handcuffed and thrown in jail and we’re not quite sure why.”
Maney said she hopes to resolve this quickly and allow Lopez Ayala to put this behind him.
The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment Monday for this story and said the report speaks for itself.
Maney said the deputy misinterpreted the hand signal that the riders used.
“I’m not saying I don’t believe the deputy sheriff asked the boys to stop, I’m saying I find it highly likely that the boys didn’t hear those instructions,” Maney said. “I don’t believe that they turned around to wave at the deputy. What I believe is that the other rider that was with Javier gave a hand gesture, which may look like a wave to a non-cycling person, for the vehicle behind him to go ahead and pass safely.”
Maney said Lopez Ayala is a full-time college student who works at a local cycle shop and rides every Saturday with his father and friends.
“He’s never been a troublemaker, he’s never been in trouble with the law,” Maney said. “He’s a good kid. He loves to ride his bike, he rides seven days a week, hundreds of miles a week. He’s never been cited, ticketed, arrested for anything. So as people can probably imagine it is an incredibly stressful and traumatic experience for both Javier and his family.”