Orlando, FL - Two Orlando Police Officers stopped State Attorney Aramis Ayala on June 19, and they are now facing accusations of racial profiling. Video of the traffic stop is below.
Two days after the traffic stop, Orlando PD uploaded a copy of the bodycam footage to YouTube as an unlisted video. That is, nobody can find the video unless they have a direct link.
It's not clear what prompted the video to be uploaded, or how it became publicly distributed. It seems likely that the video was requested by somebody who was aware of the traffic stop, who then distributed the video in an attempt to smear the officers.
Aramis Ayala hit the national spotlight after announcing that she would not seek the death penalty for cop-killer Markeith Loyd, or in any capital murder case that was assigned to her. Florida Governor Rick Scott then removed her from the 23 death penalty cases that were in her jurisdiction, including Loyd’s, and reassigned them to another State Attorney.
She filed a lawsuit against Governor Scott, claiming that he did not have the authority to remove her from cases. However, a judge disagreed with her and rejected her lawsuit. They have been in a legal battle ever since.
During her traffic stop, the bodycam video shows no evidence of racial profiling. People with no knowledge of the law have been giving their own legal analysis, claiming that the stop was unlawful.
The officer cited the reason for the stop being that Ayala's license plate didn't show up in the state database and that her window tinting appeared too dark.
Aramis Ayala's license plate likely didn't come back with a record in the state database because, as a public official, she may have applied for a plate which didn't have her personal information attached.
Not having a record in the state database provided the officer with reasonable suspicion that the plate may not be real. Reasonable suspicion does not require officers to discount all possibilities in order to stop somebody to investigate.
As soon as the officer received a reasonable explanation from Ayala (that she's a State Attorney,) he ended the stop.
Many are also questioning officers' ability to randomly run license plates. It is established by case law, and in compliance with laws and policies on criminal justice databases, that police officers are allowed to randomly run license plates. This allows them to locate stolen vehicles, check if the plate registration is expired, etc.
In addition to the license plate violation, Ayala likely violated the window tint law. Self-proclaimed internet law experts are saying that because they can see through Ayala's rear windows, then her tint cannot possibly be too dark.
In most states, the tint law focuses primarily on the front side windows and windshield, and Florida is no exception. The tint on the front side windows in Florida cannot be darker than 72%. For those who aren't aware, that's a barely noticeable tint.
Here is an example of a 75% tint on front side windows:
If the officer noticed a tint that seemed dark, then odds are, it was in violation.
Despite Ayala likely being in violation, the officer chose not to take action on it. In the video, the officer simply identified Ayala and never even bothered to check her driver's license status or check for warrants. As soon as he got the explanation that she was a State Attorney, he just gave her a polite warning about her window tint.
Overall, this stop only shows a missed opportunity for the officer to issue a traffic ticket to somebody who deserved it.
You can see the video of the stop below: