An Orlando police officer who broke an elderly man's neck during an arrest this weekend used an approved takedown technique, but his supervisors are still reviewing his actions, police Chief Val Demings said Wednesday.
Officer Travis Lamont remains on active duty while the review of the "dynamic takedown" of Daniel Daley takes place.
Such reviews are standard in use-of-force cases, but the department also is looking into whether the method was appropriate given that Daley is 84, officials said.
"If the same technique had been administered on a 40-year-old, I don't think we'd be standing here having this conversation," Demings said in her first public comments on the incident.
Daley, who lives in Orlando, suffered a broken neck after Lamont took him to the ground Saturday night in a parking lot on North Orange Avenue. Daley is in a medically induced coma to prevent further injury, but he is not paralyzed, said his attorney, Mark NeJame.
Daley, who had been drinking at a bar across the street, got upset because his car was being towed from a spot near Ivanhoe Grocery, a police report shows. He was yelling at the tow-truck driver, was "very aggressive and belligerent" toward Lamont and kept slapping the officer's shoulder, a police report states. Lamont acted after Daley grabbed the officer's neck and tried to punch him, he wrote.
"It is always the actions of the suspect that determines the level of force that is used," Demings said.
If Lamont's superiors find that his actions were inappropriate, the case will be referred to the department's internal-affairs division for a full investigation, Orlando police spokeswoman Sgt. Barbara Jones said.
"It is never a good thing when an officer has to go hands on," Demings said.
Daley remains at Florida Hospital Orlando, where he underwent surgery Monday to repair the first vertebra in his neck. Doctors performed an MRI Wednesday morning to assess the level of damage, but those results were not immediately available, NeJame said.
Source: Orlando Sentinel