ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A now former Navy SEAL told Eyewitness News he feels he was unfairly treated during his criminal trial in Orange County when he was forced to change out of his military uniform.
John Cruz Alicea said becoming a Navy SEAL was one of the proudest days of his life.
"Honestly, it meant the world to me," Alicea said.
But everything changed for Alicea in December 2013 when he became involved in a confrontation with Orange County deputies at downtown Disney. Cellphone video captured Alicea's takedown by deputies, who said he was intoxicated and had tried to attack them.
Alicea denied that and claimed it was the opposite that actually happened. He was charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting with violence.
"He just pushed me, shoved me and tried to choke me, and slammed me on to the ground," Alicea said.
When the 24-year-old, who was represented by the Baez Law Firm, showed up for his trial at the Orange County Courthouse in uniform, prosecutors filed a motion to keep his military connection out of the trial. Judge Jennifer Davis granted the motion and ordered Alicea to change into spare clothes provided by the public defender's office.
"It felt like getting stabbed," Alicea said.
Despite not being able to wear his uniform, Alicea was eventually acquitted of all his charges, but he was administratively discharged from the military under honorable conditions.
He told Eyewitness News he hopes to file a lawsuit against the deputies who arrested him.