A Florida police chief said he will review his department’s process of handing out its annual Officer of the Year award after its most recent recipient was also named in two excessive force lawsuits and a citizen review board called his conduct “unprofessional and racist.”
In February, the Orlando Police Department named Jonathan Mills as its 2019 Officer of the Year for being a leader, a proactive officer and a motivator, the Orlando Sentinel reports. According to the award’s requirements, the person receiving the honor must display “outstanding job performance, dedication to duty, unsullied moral character, exceptional community service and professional police image.”
Maybe I just have a terrible vocabulary but Mills’ police record seems to reflect the direct opposite of that list of qualifications. Apparently, the police officers of Orlando use a totally different dictionary than you and me.
Perhaps, in Orlando, “outstanding job performance” means pulling over the wrong car and—instead of letting the innocent person go—putting your hands down the man’s pants and “sexually assaulting” the suspect while claiming to search for drugs. That’s what a federal lawsuit alleges Mills did in 2014 when the officer stopped a citizen in a case of mistaken identity, according to the Sentinel. Court documents said the encounter caused bodily injury, a loss of dignity and described the incident as “shocking to the conscience.”
When questioned by internal affairs investigators, Mills reportedly laughed about it, according to police transcripts. The civil case accused Mills of sexual assault, excessive force and “non-consensual, harmful physical contact” but ended in a hung jury. The City of Orlando settled with the alleged victim for $80,000 without admitting guilt.
The civilian was not charged with any violation of the law.
Sounds like “dedication to duty” to me.
A year earlier, Mills allegedly pulled over Louis Fredrick for a suspended license. For some reason, Mills tasered the 57-year-old even though Fredrick was holding his hands above his head in a “non-threatening manner.” A lawsuit says Mills slammed Fredrick to the ground, sending the man to the hospital and reportedly necessitating three shoulder surgeries.
The City settled that case for $50,000 in 2017, the Sentinel reports. But it obviously fulfilled the “professional police image” requirement.
And in 2016, Mills and his partner pulled over a black woman who they suspected was attempting to buy drugs. When the woman refused to get off her phone, Mills’ partner dragged her out of her car and bragged about arresting her family members while Mills bragged to bystanders about the size of his home compared to theirs. Mills allegedly told one black woman: “That hair-do is sad. You’ve got to get your hair done, girl.”
The Sentinel reports that a civilian review board called the incident “unprofessional and racist” but internal affairs concluded that Mills did not break department rules. Surely they determined that Mill’s racism was “exceptional community service.”
More than 15 civilian complaints against Mills between 2012 and 2015 support evidence of his “unsullied moral character.” But the man who nominated Mills wrote that “Ofc. Mills has faced some adversity in his career but never became bitter or disheartened…He learned from his past, moved forward and became stronger.”
“Going forward, I will be working with my command staff as we go through our awards policies,” said Orlando police chief Orlando Rolon. “We will be implementing changes to those policies to ensure that the entire process is beyond reproach.”
So all hail Officer Jonathan Mills, the greatest example of a police officer that Orlando, Fla., has to offer.
And for God’s sake, pray that you never encounter the first runner-up.