[bold]Former NYPD officers heralded by DeSantis include fired security guard, defendant in federal police brutality suit[/bold]
New details are emerging about the newest dozen police officers lauded by Gov. Ron DeSantis for moving to Florida from New York City to escape what the governor described as low morale and a lack of support from Democratic politicians there.
The new hires include one previously fired as a Walmart Inc. security guard, one with only three years of experience who demanded more than double his salary, and others with mysterious gaps in their resumes.
One said he mistakenly checked a box on his employment application indicating he illegally used marijuana recently — then said he actually never did. Two failed to disclose on their Lakeland applications they had been disciplined over minor matters by the NYPD.
Another worked on the NYPD’s notorious anti-crime units. Plainclothes officers in unmarked cars in those units targeted violent crime with car stops-and-frisks in minority neighborhoods and were involved in controversial shootings of civilians. The police commissioner there disbanded the teams and reassigned those officers last year after high-profile incidents.
In one incident, the newly hired officer in Lakeland was among eight NYPD plainclothes officers accused in a federal lawsuit of handcuffing and brutally beating a man in January 2015. The city paid $178,000 to settle the case. The man was left with four broken bones in his face, a dislocated shoulder and cuts and bruises — as the city dropped minor marijuana charges against him six weeks after the beating, the lawsuit said.
Details came from court files, disciplinary reports, records of lawsuit settlement payments, and the applications submitted to the Lakeland Police Department for the hires, all from the NYPD. Originally there were 13 applicants, but one did not complete the transfer process for what police said was a family issue.
DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor, treated the officers to a warm welcome and a promise of $5,000 hiring bonuses. He held a news conference in early September to demonstrate his support for law enforcement officers — and to jab Democrats in New York City he said weren’t supporting police. It wasn’t clear whether anyone in the governor’s office had reviewed or discussed the officers’ employment applications or reviewed their backgrounds.
“We’re proud in Florida of being a state where people who are in uniform know they’re appreciated,” he said. “They know they have the support, certainly of the governor and the attorney general, but also our Legislature and the people throughout the state of Florida.”