Aramis Ayala,Florida’s first and only Black elected state attorney, is still trying to figure out why she was abruptly pulled over by overzealous Orlando police officers.
I’m scratching my head, too.
It may be a case of racial profiling – or a simple mistake—but the Orlando cops harassed the wrong Black woman. They pulled Ayala over but could not explain why. When she asked questions, the cops offered vague and convoluted answers.
The situation sounds shaky. Here’s what happened:
Ayala was pulled over by two police officers June 19 while leaving Florida A&M University College of Law, where she had taught an evening class.
She told the officers she was the Florida state attorney and she asked the cops why she was being stopped. Ayala handed the officer her driver’s license and fully cooperated.
And then one of the officers began to offer a half-baked explanation.
“Thank you, your tag didn’t come back, never seen that before, but we’re good now. We ran the tag, I’ve never seen it before with a Florida tag, it didn’t come back to anything, so that’s the reason for the stop.”
Ayala then asked: “What was the tag run for?”
“Oh we run tags through all the time, whether it’s a traffic light and that sort stuff, that’s how we figure out if cars are stolen and that sort of thing,” the cop said.
“Also, the windows are really dark, I don’t have a tint measure but that’s another reason for the stop.”
So was the stop because Alaya’s tag didn’t come back to the computer or because her tinted windows were too dark? Which one is it?
In the officer’s body-cam video, Ayala seems annoyed.
“Do you guys have cards on you?” she asked the officers.
And here’s where it gets crazy.
“One second,” on the of the officers says. “Actually, this isn’t my car but I can write my name down.”
It’s not his car?
The cop writes his name on a piece of paper and hands it to Ayala.
“There you are, have a good day,” the cops tells Ayala and she drives off.
Was this payback against Ayala? Was it racial profiling? Is it an orchestrated harassment?
In April, Ayala received a noose in the mail. Ayala’s office reported the incident after recently receiving two threatening and racist letters in the mail, which included a noose made with green twine. An incident report also stated that Ayala “believes the hangman’s noose was meant as a threat to her as a public official” and that these incidents are hate crimes.
Ayala is embroiled in a public feud withFlorida Gov. Rick Scott because Ayala has refused to seek the death penalty in a number of recent cases. Scott reassigned 21 of her cases and Ayala argues that Scott doesn’t have the authority to take cases away from her. She has filed a federal lawsuit against Scott.
In March, Stan McCullars, the assistant finance director at the Seminole County Clerk of Court and Comptroller’s Office was placed on administrative leave after posting Facebook comments saying Ayala “should be tarred and feathered if not hung from a tree.”
“Maybe SHE should get the death penalty,” McCullars wrote in Facebook comments.
Meanwhile, The Orlando Police Department released a statement saying it runs tags “for official business only,” a practice “done routinely on patrol.”
But Ayala wasn’t buying it.
“To be clear, I violated no laws, ”Ayala told reporters. “The license plate, while confidential was and remains properly registered. The tint was in no way a violation of Florida law.”
Ayala plans to meet with Orlando Police Chief John Mina to get a clear explanation for why she was stopped.