Lawsuit claims excessive force by Orlando police officers



ORLANDO, Fla. - A lawsuit against the Orlando Police Department paints a picture of brutality and excessive force by a group of OPD officers.

Reginald Bletcher claims that in April he drove to his auto repair shop to lock up for the night.

At the time Bletcher was at his shop four OPD officers were in the area looking for a female robbery suspect.

According to the lawsuit, Bletcher was ambushed by the officers and shocked twice with a stun device.

The suit says Bletcher sustained excruciating kicks, punches and elbows to his face, head and body.

Channel 9 obtained an arrest report where the officers claim Bletcher ran from his car when they tried to pull him over.

One of the officers wrote that Bletcher repeatedly reached for his waistband.

Officers said after Bletcher was shocked and pepper sprayed, they realized he wasn't the person they were looking for.

Despite that, Bletcher was charged with several crimes anyway. The charges were dropped almost immediately.

"We see a valid claim for false arrest and civil rights violations," said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

In an unusual move the lawsuit mentions other excessive force suits filed in the past year that the city of Orlando has lost in court or settled.

The suit said a woman was paid $140,000 after an OPD officer shoved her face-first to the sidewalk, breaking her teeth.

It highlights three other lawsuits that cost taxpayers $1.7 million collectively.

"Certainly since there have been past victories against OPD on these matters, it's certainly going to embolden and it's going to influence a plaintiff's attorney," said Sheaffer.

An OPD spokesman told Channel 9's Ryan Hughes that the department doesn't comment on pending litigation.