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Legal analyst weighs in after video shows Orange County deputy smashing driver’s window during traffic stop

Sheriff John Mina says incident is under review

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An inquiry continues after a video circulating on social media showed an Orange County deputy smashing a car window during a traffic stop Wednesday.

Deputies said around 7:30 p.m. investigators noticed a vehicle blocking traffic lanes with its hazard lights on while protesters in response to George Floyd’s death were walking on the sidewalk on the westbound side of Curry Ford Road.

After a traffic stop was initiated, 21-year-old Khadija Bezzaz pulled into a Walgreens parking lot, the video shows.

The video shows Bezzaz recording the incident with her phone.

“I felt unsafe for my life," she told News 6.

Footage of the incident from the driver’s view was widely shared on social media. In response on Thursday, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said the incident was under review.

News 6 legal analyst Steven Kramer watched both the body camera video as well as the cell phone video.

“When you get pulled over, the officer has a couple different options,” he said. “One of them is to walk up to the window and ask for your license and registration and another option is they can ask you to step out of the vehicle. The courts have said if an officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, that’s a lawful command you should obey.”

Kramer pointed out that it is a misdemeanor to disobey a lawful command from a law enforcement officer.

“Emotions played a role,” Kramer said. “This did not look like a normal traffic stop. When you look at that interaction, it would have been nice to see that entire interaction disengage a little bit. The driver probably should have gotten out of the vehicle when commanded to do so.”

Investigators said the driver was informed she was violating traffic violations and was being detained.

Deputies said she was asked to step out of the car and she did not.

Mina said the deputy felt the car lurch forward and Deputy Christopher Moore smashed the car window with a baton.

Sheriff John Mina told reporters Thursday night the deputy followed protocol but wished the deputy spent a little more time trying to de-escalate the situation.

“The deputies are trained here to ask the driver to step out of the vehicle,” Mina said. “That’s for their safety. There’s different practices [at different places]. When I was at Orlando Police, the driver was to remain in the car.”

As for the moment where the deputy puts his arm inside the driver’s car -- Kramer told News 6 that’s more a question about personal safety for the officer than it is a question for the law.

“When an officer put their limb into a vehicle, my concern is what’s going to happen,” Kramer said.

The driver was placed in a sheriff’s office vehicle and she was transported to the hospital after she sustained minor cuts to her face from the broken glass.

No charges have been sent to the state attorney’s office as the incident is under review, according to the sheriff.

“It’s like putting a bandaid over somebody stabbing you, we need change," Bezzaz said.

The sheriff did admit this incident could prompt his office to change the way they handle traffic stops.

“Especially now during these times, many from the community have asked for policy changes,” Mina said. “So I’m looking at a wide variety of things for all of our policies so that’s not out of the question.”


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