ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando police officer who used a piece of wood taken from a homeless man to smash a driver’s windshield has been sentenced to four years of probation.
Court records show Gabriel Pagan recently accepted a plea deal that ended with him being sentenced to four years of probation on charges of criminal mischief and battery. He was initially facing a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Pagan was patrolling in downtown Orlando around 2 a.m. on July 17, 2019 when he took a two-by-four piece of wood from homeless man who was using it to hit and damage property.
Pagan kept the piece of wood and rode off with it on his bicycle.
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.
Pagan was suspended with pay last year. The Orlando Police Department said Pagan resigned in August.