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Florida Cop Resigns After Security Footage Shows He Lied About Man Attacking Him During Traffic Stop

Florida Cop Resigns After Security Footage Shows He Lied About Man Attacking Him During Traffic Stop
Lake Wales Police Department

A Florida police officer resigned after footage from a home surveillance camera contradicted his claim a driver charged towards him with clenched fists. The officer justified his use of violent force against the driver with the lie.

The driver could have served four years in prison based on the officer's false report had it not been for the home surveillance footage of his arrest.

The incident happened on February 8 when Lake Wales Officer Colt Black pulled over Chris Cordero.

According to ABC News, Cordero said he was driving his "beat-up Saturn" to pick up medicine for his son at Publix supermarket.

Said, Cordero:

"I stopped at a stop sign on Third Street and I noticed the officer behind me, way before I even stopped."

You can watch the news report below.

He continued:

"I get out of the vehicle to ask him what's going on because he's been following me for a while."

The home security camera belonging to a neighbor showed Cordero—after being pulled over—complied with Black's commands.

It also showed Officer Black sucker punched Cordero and beat him along with fellow Officer Travis Worley—who arrived shortly after Black's first assault on the driver. Cordero was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, assault on a law enforcement officer and making a death threat to a law enforcement officer.

However, Officer Black said in his police report Cordero "immediately exited the driver door and began to charge towards my patrol vehicle." He also claimed the driver approached with closed fists.

Cordero said:

"That's absolutely not true."
"The officer requested to me that I go to the back of my car and put my hands on the trunk. Because he wants to search me to see if I have a weapon."

Black wrote in the report:

"Believing Cordero was getting ready to attack me I pointed my agency issued dart firing stun gun at Cordero and commanded him to stop charging me or I would tase him."

The surveillance footage showed Cordero step out of the vehicle, pause for about 20 seconds then turn to go back inside his vehicle.

The two appeared to be talking. Moments later, Black approached and attacked Cordero who had been standing stationary. Even though the video showed Cordero complying with Black's orders, the officer physically assaulted him, seemingly unprovoked.

Cordero recalled:

"He sucker-punched me from the back, right here, cracked a piece of my tooth out. I landed on the ground."

The violent encounter escalated when Officer Worley arrived on the scene.

According to Cordero and the video footage:

"They both jumped on me and beat me up really bad."

Black said in his official report he "delivered an elbow strike to the left side of Cordero's head" because he thought Cordero was trying to reach for a weapon.

After posting bail the day following his arrest, Cordero went back to the neighborhood and went door to door until he found the footage from one Lake Wales resident whose security camera was aimed at the traffic stop where Cordero was arrested.

Cordero's charges were dropped after Lake Wales attorney Sara Jones forwarded the footage of Cordero's arrest to the Polk County State's Attorney's Office.

According to the Winter Haven Sun, staff for State Attorney Brian Haas wrote a letter to Lake Wales Police Chief Chris Velasquez stating his office decided not to pursue charges for Cordero.

The letter read:

"Our office made the decision to no bill the charges in the above listed case. After reviewing the reports written by the arresting officer and viewing the surveillance footage that captured the incident, we noticed some issues with the case."
"We think the issues merit your agency's attention. Please inform us of your findings upon completion."

Black subsequently wrote in another report:

"I believe my perception was altered due to the high stress of the incident."

The incident also revealed the two officers had previous citizens' complaints and were investigated for heavy-handed policing.

Jones said:

"These officers who have issues with power and control target people who they know won't be believed."

The attorney added:

"They know. How can they not when I stand at the commission podium and I talk to them and I say, 'I'll tell you, I'll show you. Come talk to me. I'll tell you who they are and what they're doing and I'll help you build the cases against them."

The police department confirmed in an email Black resigned, effective February 10, and Worley—the officer who joined Black in beating Cordero—was placed on paid administrative station duty while an investigation was underway.

The incident came to light just as the Lake Wales City Commission approved a pilot body camera program for eight LWPD officers after some residents pushed for the program for two years.

Cordero—who hired the law firm of Morgan and Morgan to sue the city—required some medical attention after sustaining injuries from his interaction with Officers Black and Worley.

He told the Sun:

"If I didn't have that video, they would've prosecuted me for something I didn't do. I had to eat punches and elbows to the head for nothing—completely nothing."