Orange County sergeant facing losing his job over wrongful arrest involving convicted felon

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office could lose his job over a wrongful arrest after he said a convicted felon was carrying a concealed weapon.

The sheriff’s office has given notice it intends to fire Sgt. Keith Vidler for what it says was abuse of power.

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Vidler is a 30-year veteran law enforcement officer who pulled people to safety during the Pulse nightclub attack.

But an internal investigation shows during a traffic stop, Vidler purposely targeted a registered sex offender, Jeremy DeWitte, who has a history of arrests for impersonating a police officer.

Officials said the two men knew each other. Body camera footage released from the sheriff’s show they call each other by name.

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Initially, Vidler said he was pulling the convicted felon over for carrying a firearm. But it turned out, it was a pepper ball gun, not a firearm.

The sticking point now is that the sergeant arrested him for something else.

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A sheriff’s office internal investigation found the pepper ball weapon was in plain view and not concealed, and that DeWitte should have been released.

Investigators determined the arrest was an abuse of power.

Some in the community have launched a GoFundMe supporting Vidler and a corporal suspended in the same case, claiming the sheriff’s office targeted them.

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Vidler declined to comment because he said it’s against department policy.

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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.