Orlando, Florida — The Orlando Police department has fired one of its officers after an internal investigation revealed he violated department policy as well as Florida statutes.
On February 24, 2014, an investigation was initiated against Officer David Johnston, 25, for violation of Obedience to Laws and Department Procedures, Obedience to Policies and Procedures and Other Written Directives, Response to Resistance and Apprehension Techniques, and Deadly Force.
The investigation revealed that on the aforementioned date, Officer Johnston and two other officers responded to a 911 call in reference to a domestic disturbance between a boyfriend and girlfriend, located at 595 West Church Street, City View Apartments.
According to reports, after arriving at the parking garage of the apartments, officers Alexander Kipp and Anthony Watts discharged their weapons while making contact with the suspect, Derrick Lattimore.
The officers claimed that Lattimore was driving his vehicle toward them.
The investigation stated that as Lattimore attempted to exit the garage, he crashed his vehicle into a wall due to being fired upon.
Prior to Lattimore crashing, Officer Johnston had returned to his patrol car and retrieved his AR-15.
Video surveillance revealed that after Lattimore crashed, Johnston fired 23 rounds from his AR-15 into the vehicle.
Investigators said that Officer Johnston could not see the suspect and had just assumed that he was armed.
“You fired 23 rounds from your AR-15 during a time where the suspect did not pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to you or any individual in the immediate area, which is in violation of Florida Statutes 790.19 and 790.15(1),” the Internal Affairs report stated. “Considering the fact that the gates were completely closed, the vehicle was disabled, and you could not see the suspect, your use of deadly force in this instance was not objectively reasonable.”
Johnston’s Defense attorney, David Bigney, told a judge during a hearing in February that the officer should have sovereign immunity (because) he’s a cop. He said the officer should not be charged with a criminal offense or lose his job.
Assistant State Attorney Linda Drane Burdick said Bigney’s statements were “absurd.”
Circuit Judge Wayne Wooten agreed. Wooten said, “One unjustified shot, is one shot too many.”
The state attorney said a law enforcement officer does not have the right to assume someone is armed and fire into an occupied vehicle.
Johnston was with OPD for two years. He was terminated on May 1, 2015.
He was charged with Firing a Weapon into an Occupied Vehicle and Discharging a Weapon in Public.
Lattimore was not struck by any of the bullets.