ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said his officers acted appropriately when conducting a stop of two black men riding their bikes on Monday night.
This comes after one of the men posted the beginning of the interaction on social media, now viewed more than 2 million times showing the two men riding their bikes on a sidewalk when confronted by officers with their guns drawn.
“What happened? We ain’t do nothing,” the man yelled at police as his friend quickly laid on the sidewalk with his hands up. Officers continue to yell ‘Get on the ground’ before ordering the men to crawl to them.
A newly released body camera video from OPD released late Thursday afternoon shows video from the officers’ perspective.
A gun was pointed at the men as they crawled towards the officer’s vehicles. The young men, clearly confused, complied.
“If you don’t have a gun, we’ll clear you,” officers can be heard.
According to police, the officers were investigating an armed robbery on International Drive on Monday night.
A release read the victim was a tourist in town on vacation and reported two individuals had attacked him and took his wallet, digital camera, and Apple watch.
He also told police the suspects claimed to have a gun.
OPD said based on what the victim and witness had reported, the suspects appeared to be two black/darker complexion men on bicycles.
The report released by OPD that would list the exact description was heavily redacted Thursday night.
Chief Rolon knows it included one of the men wearing or having a white shirt tied around their waistband, but couldn’t describe much more than that.
“It’s described in the report, I know there was a mention of a reddish looking shirt and a white shirt of sorts, that I remember vividly,” Rolon said. “There was enough information about the bicycles, the color of their skin, certain color of clothing they were wearing, one in his 20s and one in his 30s which would give any officer reasonable suspicion that these individuals may be involved.”
About nine minutes later, the two men seen in the viral video were stopped by an officer. Body camera video shows officers with their guns drawn ordering the men to get on the ground and to crawl to them until they were able to pat them down and handcuff them.
Police say less than an hour later, the witness was brought to the location and confirmed the men were not the ones involved in the robbery. Police on body camera video seen explaining what happened to both men.
“I want to make sure I’m man enough and say ‘Hey, you wasn’t the guy’ and I appreciate you following directions and getting on the ground,” the officer can be heard speaking to one of the men.
He then approaches the other.
“I apologize it wasn’t you, but you matched the description and that’s why I did what I did,” he said.
“You can’t honestly apologize to me about pulling a gun on me,” the man responded.
Rolon said his officers acted appropriately.
“I would have acted exactly how they did,” Chief Rolon said. “These again were individuals that matched the description given to us by the victims and witnesses that was described to the officers. The officers had no choice, actually, the officers had an obligation to stop these individuals to make sure they weren’t the ones responsible.”
Chief Rolon said the officers responded the way they did out of safety, thinking they had the suspects possibly armed.
“You can’t just approach someone who is potentially armed just like nothing especially at night, you have to consider there are officer safety considerations that have to be applied during that scenario that can result in you dying if you aren’t careful,” Rolon said. “That said you have to know when to elevate and deescalate that situation and that’s what we practiced here.”