ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates a charge that many people find unfair: Resisting an officer without violence.
A month-long investigation revealed a majority of people charged with that crime in Orange County in 2013 were eventually let off the hook.
Eyewitness News examined more than 350 cases where resisting an officer without violence was the sole charge and determined six in 10, or 60 percent, were dismissed, not prosecuted or the defendant was found not guilty.
Last year, Jeff Davies was stopped by an Orange County deputy for speeding along South John Young Parkway.
Davies said he felt sick and got out of his Jeep. He recorded deputies in action, and when they realized his cellphone was rolling, things got heated.
“Sir, I just need you to have a seat back in your vehicle,” an unidentified deputy said to Davies.
After ignoring their repeated requests, a deputy forced Davies to turn around and slapped handcuffs on him. He was thrown in jail and charged with resisting an officer without violence.
“If people don't do immediately what they say, whether it's reasonable or otherwise, that's the power that they have, and I think they use it just to be bullies, frankly,” Davies told WFTV's Ryan Hughes.
Central Florida attorney Howard Marks thinks the charge is a terrible abuse of the system.
“When the police don't have anything, it's resisting without violence,” Marks said.
Alberto Troche was arrested by Orlando police officers while recording them and was charged with resisting an officer without violence. Prosecutors dropped his case due to insufficient evidence. He has since sued the agency.
Orange-Osceola Assistant State Attorney Will Jay said it can be a difficult charge to prove.
“An officer's standard out in the field is probable cause. That just basically means a reasonable person would think this person probably committed the crime. What we have to look for is proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Jay said.
As for Davies, he took his case all the way to a jury trial and walked free.
“There's got to be enough sense that they can recognize someone who is a threat and someone is not,” he said.
Davies spent weeks drafting a lawsuit against the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and plans to file it this week.
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