A 84-year-old veteran is recovering from surgery to repair damaged vertebrae after an Orlando police officer reportedly flipped him onto his face and broke his neck.
On Saturday, "Police say Daniel J. Daley, 84, of Orlando was transported to Florida Hospital Orlando after he 'struck' an officer and the officer subdued him outside the Ivanhoe Grocery at 1820 North Orange Avenue about 11 p.m," reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The conflict began when Daley confronted a tow truck driver trying to haul his car away from a parking lot across the street from the bar where he had been drinking.
The owners of Ivanhoe Grocery and The Caboose bar have clashed for months over use of parking spaces at the store. Signs recently were placed to discourage bar customers from occupying them.
Daley, a frequent patron of The Caboose, was arguing with the tow truck driver when the police were called.
Bar owner Tim Scott said the veteran "had a few drinks but he wasn't out of control."
Details were scarce on what happened next, but Scott said Daley touched the unidentified police officer one to three times in a non-threatening fashion. The officer responded by throwing the senior to the pavement, the bar owner said.
"I've never seen anything like it," Scott said. "He hip-checked the guy and slammed his head into the pavement. He [Daley] is too old for that."
In his police report (.pdf file), 26-year-old Officer Travis Lamont writes that,
"Daley Jr. also continued to slap my right shoulder with his hand and state several times, 'I was a federal officer for twenty years. I fought in three wars I know what I'm talking about!' I stated to Daley Jr again in a clear voice, 'Do not touch me.' Hill [the tow truck driver] then approached Daley Jr. and attempted to persuade him to leave the scene. Daley Jr. then reached out with his left hand and grabbed the right side of my neck. Daley Jr. then raised his right hand while making a closed fist, and cocked his right hand back as if to throw a punch. Daley Jr. then stated, 'I'm not going anywhere till I knock out this cop.' I immediately feared a physical attack was imminent so I grabbed Daley Jr's left wrist with my left hand while placing my right hand on his left elbow. I then pivoted on the ball of my left foot while dropping my right knee toward the ground. I then directed Daley Jr. to the ground with an arm bar technique"
Daley has been charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer.
On Tuesday, the Orlando police department released 911 calls related to the incident.
"An 86-year-old man is arguing about getting his car towed," one angry 911 caller said. "He touched the police officer and the young officer flips him through the air on his face."
"I want to meet with the mayor after watching that. It was incredible. Totally excessive."
"Everybody is focusing on the age," Orlando Police spokeswoman Sgt. Barbara Jones told local television station WFTV. "I am focusing on the action of this person. People, 84, can kill officers, too, can cold-cock my officer in the face, knock him out and now you’ve got an officer laying down on the ground with a gun, and everything is completely out of control."
"Daley's lawyer, Mark NeJame, said the elderly man has never had legal trouble. Lamont has been investigated three times by the police internal-affairs division," reports the Orlando Sentinel.
The officer joined the department in December 2008. Since then, he damaged his patrol car twice and was reprimanded, records show. In April, he wrongly arrested a man on a simple battery charge and had to ask a judge to release the man from jail. He received a written reprimand.
The upset 911 caller can be listened to below.