Bodycam footage of two Orlando police officers pulling over Florida’s first and only black state attorney has gone viral. The cops, now accused of racial profiling, claimed her tags didn’t come back as registered and also eyed her legally tinted windows.
On Wednesday, the Orlando Police Department (OPD) released the bodycam footage from an officer who pulled over State Attorney Aramis Ayala on June 19.
When the officer approached her window, she handed him her license. After scanning it, the cop asked her what agency she worked for. Ayala, who serves as state attorney in the 9th Circuit, told him who she was, at which point the officer quickly gave her license back and launched into an explanation of why she was stopped.
“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,” the officer explained.
“What was the tag run for?” Ayala asked.
“Oh we run tags through all the time, whether it’s a traffic light and that sort of stuff, that’s how we figure out if cars are stolen and that sort of thing,” the officer said, adding that her “windows are really dark. I don’t have a tint measure, but that’s another reason for the stop.”
Ayala then asked for the officer’s names, saying, “Do you have cards on you?”
The officer informed Ayala that he was not driving his own car, and offered to write his name down for her.
“There you are, have a good day,” the officer said after ripping a page out of his notebook and handing it to her. The footage then ends with Ayala driving away.
Sgt. Eduardo Bernal, a spokesman for the Orlando Police Department, told the Tampa Bay Times that it is their policy to run tags for official business only. He added that it is done “routinely on patrol.”
“In regards to the video, which was released by the Orlando Police Department last month, the officers stated the tag did not come back as registered to any vehicle,” Bernal told the Tampa Bay Times. “As you can see in the video, the window tint was dark, and officers would not have been able to tell who, or how many people, were in the vehicle.”
Bernal also said that there was no complaint filed over the traffic stop.
Ayala issued a statement through her office, stating that she “violated no laws,” and claimed that her window tint was “in no way a violation of Florida law” and her tags are “properly registered.”
However, she added that “the traffic stop appears to be consistent with Florida law,” according to a statement obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
Ayala has recently been the target of racially charged threats after she announced in March that she will not pursue the death penalty for violent felony cases. Since then, Ayala has received a noose in the mail and the assistant finance director at the Seminole County Clerk of Court and Comptroller’s Office wrote a message on Facebook that called for Ayala to be “hung from a tree.”
After the body cam footage was released, Twitter users on Wednesday accused the officers of racially profiling Ayala.