Former Florida 'Patrol Officer Of The Year' Reprimanded After Body Cam Video Shows Him Mocking Teen's 'Soft Hands' During Arrest
Despite earning the 2018 Patrol Officer of the Year award in Orlando, Florida, Officer Jonathan Mills was cited for misconduct after taunting a group of teens.
This is just the latest controversy involving Mills.
In 2019, Mills was awarded 2018 Officer of the Year for being "the most proactive member of his squad." But the officer's history with excessive force complaints, lawsuits and official disciplinary actions for racist comments prompted the Orlando Police Department to announce they would reevaluate how future awards were given.
Now an internal investigation at the Orlando PD found evidence of misconduct from Officer Mills' body-cam when he was called to assist another officer who had detained a group of teens for loitering.
The report read:
"[Officer Jonathan Mills did] taunt, belittle, humiliate, and even incite... violence [with the teens]."
Mills was also witnessed on the video grabbing one of the teen's hands and taunting them.
Mills said while holding the teen's hands:
"These soft hands have been through something. You have no marks on your knuckles, you've never been in a fight."
Mills then grabbed the phone from one of the two other teens and threw it on the ground.
Mills then turned to the other two teens and said:
"I hope he runs."
Mills claimed that he performed both of these acts as a means to diffuse a threat.
However, during the internal investigation, it was noted that a screwdriver, which could be used as a weapon, was visible on Mills' body-cam. When he grabbed the teen's hands, the investigation argues that he also should have removed the potential weapon.
When Mills told the group on the video he hoped one teen would run, that called into question Mills' claims the group of teens posed a threat. It suggests that he hoped they would run, rather than having firm evidence to believe that they actually would.
When asked about the arrest, a mother of one of the teens claimed that Mills was aggressive with her and showed signs of racial bias against her and her teen.
Mills argued he was not overly aggressive with the Black mother and that he treated her no differently than the White mother of one of the other teens.
Officer Mills previously faced excessive force lawsuits and was given a verbal reprimand after he was accused of making a racist comment to a woman during a traffic stop in March 2016.
However there wasn't enough evidence on the body-cam to be able to confirm Mills' behavior toward either mother.
Mills also insisted he was not aggressive with the teens and claimed the teens were confrontational and made repeated anti-police remarks.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón announced back in June that the requirements and procedures for giving the "Patrol Officer of the Year" award needed to be reevaluated, in light of Mills' history.
Rolón also clarified that Mills' award will not be rescinded based on his prior and subsequent behavior, but that corrective discipline will take place.
A spokesperson for the Department said:
"Discipline is also intended as a corrective measure."
Despite Rolón's remarks about Mills, some see Mills' behavior as par for the course.
@CGasparino Weird. I expect them to act this way.— Widescreen News (@Widescreen News)1579017911.0
Others were hopeful after hearing about the Department's decision to take corrective measures.
@CGasparino When the people making these assertions become polite, perhaps others will follow their example.— MetricSmart (@MetricSmart)1579017947.0
@CGasparino Wonder what he accomplished with his "impolite" behavior? Where do they get some of these guys?— Robert Waddell (@Robert Waddell)1579018731.0
@CGasparino “To protect and serve”— Herzog Gutreich (@Herzog Gutreich)1579018175.0
However people feel about the situation, it's important to keep police officers in-check regarding their behavior with the public.
It's protect and serve, not intimidate and bully.