FILE – In this March 16, 2017, file photo, Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala, during a news conference on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse, announces that her office will no longer pursue the death penalty as a sentence in any case brought before the 9th Judicial Circuit of Florida. The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, is hearing oral arguments in the legal battle between Gov. Rick Scott and Ayala. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File) (Joe Burbank)
There was nothing unusual about a June 19 traffic stop in Orlando, except the driver happened to be Florida’s first African-American state attorney who also happens to be in a legal fight with the governor over the death penalty.
Two Orlando police officers told prosecutor Aramis Ayala they stopped her because her car’s tag didn’t come back registered to any vehicle and because the windows were tinted. They were polite, and Ayala said in a statement that the stop appears to be consistent with Florida law.
However, she also said she violated no law and sees the incident as a point of dialogue with the police chief as she seeks better relations between police and the community.
“My goal is to have a constructive and mutually respectful relationship between law enforcement and the community,” she said.
Orlando police have released a bodycam video of the encounter.
Ayala’s refusal to seek the death penalty has riled Gov. Rick Scott.
She announced earlier this year that her office would no longer seek the death penalty because it wasn’t a deterrent and it dragged on for victims’ families. In response, the governor took away almost two dozen cases from her office. She is currently fighting the governor’s decision before the Florida Supreme Court.
In a statement, the Orlando Police Department said that the agency allows the running of tags for official business only and it’s done routinely on patrol.
In the bodycam video, one of the officers tells the prosecutor, “We run tags all the time … that’s how we figure out if cars are stolen.”
The police agency added in its statement, “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.”
Ayala said the tint of her car’s windows wasn’t in violation of the law and that her license plate was properly registered and confidential. Florida law authorizes confidential vehicle registrations for some law enforcement officials.