A Florida state attorney plans to use a recent traffic stop as a teachable moment for her community despite the non-incident leading nowhere.
Florida’s first and only black elected state attorney, Aramis Ayala, confirmed that she was pulled over on June 19 in Parramore. Orlando Police pulled her over driving a state-issued vehicle, after she left Florida A&M University College of Law where she had been teaching that night, CNN reported.
Body camera video footage captured the exchange between the police officers and Ayala during the stop she admitted was “consistent” with the law, although some wanted to portray as racial profiling.
“What agency are you with?” the officer asked as he checked Ayala’s identification.
“I’m the state attorney” she replied.
She asked why a check was run on her license plate after the officer told her the check returned no information. State-issued vehicles have confidential license plates that do not come up as registered to any vehicle, according to the police department.
“We run tags all the time,” the officer explained. “That’s how we figure out if cars are stolen and that sort of thing,”
“Also, the windows are really dark, I don’t have a tint measure but that’s another reason for the stop,” he added.
The stop resulted in no incident or citations, though Ayala did request the officers’ business cards.
Running tags is “done routinely on patrol” and “for official business only,” the Orlando Police Department said in a statement, according to CNN.
“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. 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,” the agency said.
And while there was nothing unlawful about the stop, Ayala stated that she would be pursuing an “open dialogue” with the police department.
“To be clear, I violated no laws. The license plate, while confidential was and remains properly registered. The tint was in no way a violation of Florida law,” she said, according to CNN.
“Although the traffic stop appears to be consistent with Florida law (my) goal is to have a constructive and mutually respectful relationship between law enforcement and the community,” she said. “I look forward to sitting down to have an open dialogue with the Chief of Orlando Police Department regarding how this incident impacts that goal.”
The police were doing their jobs, the stop was lawful, and no further action was needed but the state attorney feels she needs to follow up, perhaps creating a controversy where none exists.
Ayala, who took office in 2016, was in the spotlight earlier this year as the state’s top prosecutor of the 9th Judicial District covering Orange and Osceola counties. Florida Gov. Rick Scott reassigned 21 first-degree murder cases to another prosecutor after Ayala announced that she would no longer pursue the death penalty.
She responded by filing a lawsuit against the governor and is being provided with “litigation support” by a public relations firm founded by former President Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod, according to WKMG. That firm has billed the state attorney over $17,000 since the lawsuit was filed against the governor.
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