Former Orange County sergeant, whistleblower suing sheriff

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who was fired after the department determined he abused his power during a traffic stop is suing Sheriff John Mina.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

Sgt. Keith Vidler says he was terminated because he was a whistleblower in the department. The man he arrested was part of a racketeering case, but the sheriff’s office decided to end that investigation in 2019.

He filed the lawsuit stating he was blowing the whistle on the sheriff’s office for dropping the case, and that led to him getting fired.

Vidler, a 30-year law enforcement veteran, was hailed as a hero for pulling people to safety during the Pulse nightclub attack.

READ: Colonial High on lockdown due to anonymous tip about weapon on campus

He is suing Mina under Florida’s Whistleblower Act, which protects public employees who file complaints around mismanagement in their office.

An internal investigation of a traffic stop last year found Vidler purposely targeted and falsely arrested Jeremy DeWitte, a registered sex offender with a history of arrests for impersonating a police officer.

Body camera footage shows Vidler appears to be concerned about what he believes is a firearm on DeWitte, something a convicted felon cannot legally possess.

READ: Registered sex offender accused of impersonating officer sentenced to 18 months in prison

It turned out to be a nonlethal pepper ball gun.

Vidler was outspoken about the racketeering investigation involving DeWitte being dropped. In his lawsuit, Vidler said in the lawsuit that the sheriff’s office management criminally interfered with that racketeering investigation into DeWitte and shut it down.

Employment law attorney Mike Grossman said this is an unusual case.

READ: Orange County sergeant accused of abuse of power terminated

“Sergeant Vidler isn’t just implicating the sheriff, he’s implicating a number of people that are in the sheriff’s office, who he alleges worked together in order to terminate the officers’ investigation of DeWitte,” he said.

Vidler told Channel 9 he wanted to talk to his attorney before commenting on the situation. The sheriff’s office said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.