911 Call: Police Action 'Over the Top; Excessive' Witness to Altercation Said - Daniel Daley Jr., 84, suffered a broken neck after a confrontation with an Orlando police officer
By Bianca Prieto | Orlando Sentinel
Posted 11:45 p.m. EDT, September 21, 2010
Orlando police released a series of 911 calls Tuesday that chronicled the events before and after a weekend confrontation with police that left an octogenarian with a broken neck.
"An 86-year-old man is arguing about getting his car towed," one 911 caller said. "He touched the police officer and the young officer flips him through the air on his face."
The caller described the officer's actions as "over the top."
"I want to meet with the mayor after watching that," he said. "It was incredible; totally excessive."
Daniel Daley Jr., whose actual age is 84, remains in critical condition at Florida Hospital Orlando after having surgery to repair the vertebra damage caused by his Saturday night confrontation with 26-year-old Officer Travis Lamont.
Police claim the drunken elderly man slapped the officer's shoulder, then grabbed him around the neck and tried to punch him, forcing Lamont to take him to the ground.
The events leading to the confrontation stem partly from an ongoing dispute between business owners on North Orange Avenue about parking spaces. On Saturday night, employees of the Ivanhoe Grocery store called a towing company to have cars hauled away from spots designated for the business.
Police and one witness say Daley, whose car was being towed, was belligerent and threatened Lamont. A lawyer for Daley say Lamont overreacted, endangering the life of an elderly widower and veteran of World War II and Vietnam.
Lamont remains on active duty and no formal complaints have been made against the officer. However, the police internal affairs division has fielded numerous calls about the incident from outraged citizens, officials said.
Tuesday evening, about a dozen people, most affiliated with the police-monitoring group Orlando Copwatch, protested outside police department headquarters on Hughey Avenue. They used a megaphone and signs to decry "police brutality" and call for Lamont to resign.
"We're calling for an apology and restitution for the family," said protester Becki Weaver.
On Saturday night, people called police four times in less than an hour-and-a-half to make reports about and a man who was making threats about a car being towed, asking for a specific officer to respond and finally to report that cars were still parked illegally on the sidewalk.
Dispatchers were simultaneously fielding calls from the owner and patrons of The Caboose bar, where Daley had been drinking prior to the incident. Those callers expressed frustration with the owners of the grocery store and later were outraged by the officer's actions.
Police edited the recordings to protect the identities of the callers and their phone numbers.
Someone from the Ivanhoe Grocery store called at 10:05 p.m. to report a man "going crazy" because a car was being towed.
"He's ex-military, everyone is telling me he is a wacko," the caller said, asking that an officer be dispatched immediately.
But four minutes later, another caller, who identified himself as a nearby business owner, told 911 dispatchers that the owners of the grocery store were harassing his patrons by having cars towed. He claimed a person from the grocery was "screaming like a maniac" while holding a child.
At some point in the next 15 minutes, Daley was injured.
At 10:22 p.m., a caller reported Lamont's behavior as "over the top."
Daley's lawyer, Mark NeJame, said the elderly man has never had legal trouble. Lamont has been investigated three times by the police internal-affairs division.
The officer joined the department in December 2008. Since then, he damaged his patrol car twice and was reprimanded, records show. In April, he wrongly arrested a man on a simple battery charge and had to ask a judge to release the man from jail. He received a written reprimand.
Source: Orlando Sentinel