ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has been terminated after the sheriff’s office said he abused his power during a traffic stop.
Veteran officer Keith Vidler is accused of holding a grudge against a man he had been investigating for two years.
Vidler, a 30-year veteran law enforcement officer, pulled people to safety during the Pulse nightclub attack.
An internal investigation into a traffic stop found Vidler purposely targeted Jeremy Dewitte, a registered sex offender who has a history of arrests for impersonating a police officer.
Initially, Vidler said he was pulling the convicted felon over for carrying a firearm, but it turned out to be a pepper ball gun.
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, but instead he was taken to jail.
Channel 9 tried to talk to Vidler last month, but he said he couldn’t comment, and he said he still can’t today; but paperwork obtained by Channel 9 shows what Vidler told the board just a few days ago.
He said he had been investigating Dewitte since September 2019, but in late 2020, he was informed that the investigation into Dewitte would have to be “shut down.”
He said there was no contact with Dewitte until an arrest in March of 2021, which he says shows he wasn’t holding a grudge. He said he also didn’t know it was Dewitte at first.
Vidler said he called his supervisor about the arrest, who Vidler said told him “good job.”
He said he knew this would be the outcome because he said he was outspoken about the investigation into Dewitte and about other things at the department, but after days of taking the case into consideration the board fired him.
Channel 9 asked Sheriff John Mina to comment on the termination, but since Vidler has one more appeal to go through, he would not comment.
Vidler was also advised not to comment until the case is over.
Some in the community have launched a GoFundMe supporting Vidler and a corporal who was suspended in the same case, claiming the sheriff’s office targeted them.
Dewitte is serving 18 months behind bars for impersonating a law enforcement officer.