Orlando Sentinel

Attorney releases ‘proceed with caution’ list

Document includes cops whose credibilit­y Ayala’s team determined had been called into question

- By Tess Sheets and Jeff Weiner

More than three dozen current and former Central Florida law enforcemen­t employees are included in State Attorney Aramis Ayala’s Brady list, which alerts prosecutor­s to “proceed with caution” when using them as witnesses in criminal cases.

The list, which was released publicly for the first time by the State Attorney’s Office Tuesday, includes law enforcemen­t personnel from eight agencies across Orange and Osceola counties whose credibilit­y Ayala’s team determined had been called into question.

Those named on the list include Orlando police officer Jonathan Mills — a former OPD patrol officer of the year repeatedly accused of unprofessi­onal conduct and excessive force — and Robert Schellhorn, another OPD officer whose expletive-laden Facebook tirade prompted the agency to amend its social media policy.

Also included on the list: Tonjali Frost-Daniley, a former Orange County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant who was fired after an investigat­ion determined she and her husband supplied cocaine for a “multi-kilogram level narcotics dealer” and participat­ed in a tax fraud scheme, along with other misconduct.

Frost-Daniley was never charged with a crime.

In a statement, OPD spokeswoma­n Heidi Rodriguez said half of the officers included on Ayala’s list no longer work at the agency and two, including Mills, are not actively patrolling the city.

The remaining four, she said, “are in good standing and maintain their law enforcemen­t officer certificat­ion from the State of Florida.”

“Those officers, along with the current 778 members of this agency, will be expected to continue performing their duties in keeping with the Department’s high standards,” Rodriguez said.

Michelle Guido, a spokeswom

an for Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said only one person listed by Ayala is still employed by the agency.

Deputy Jackson Etienne, who is accused of scamming a man he met while on duty out of nearly $30,000, is set for trial in August. He has been relieved of duty without pay since June 2019.

Ayala first announced her plan to create the Brady list in July 2019. The list takes its name from a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that required prosecutor­s to turn over all potentiall­y exculpator­y evidence to defendants in criminal cases.

Brady policies, which other prosecutor­s’ offices across the country have adopted, extend that principle to recurring state witnesses whose conduct has called into question their credibilit­y.

The names released Tuesday were included on an “Alert” list, which signals to prosecutor­s that, while informatio­n about them may need to be disclosed to defense lawyers, their conduct is not “egregious” enough to exclude their testimony entirely.

Ayala’s policy also creates a separate “Last Resort” list. The policy tells prosecutor­s to treat witnesses on that list as “unreliable and not credible” and not rely on them for important facts without corroborat­ion.

In an interview, Ayala said she decided not to immediatel­y roll out a Last Resort list after consulting with OPD Chief Orlando Rolón, who told her that officers with that mark against them could not function at the agency, though they would have to still be paid.

Ayala said she believes some of the officers named Tuesday should be on a Last Resort list, but called the Alert list a way to put agencies and officers “on notice” that egregious conduct in the future could land them there.

Asked what could put an officer on that list, Ayala mentioned OPD Officer Michael Favorit, Jr., who in 2015 went on an unauthoriz­ed chase with another officer and tried to cover it up. Favorit was fired but gained his job back through arbitratio­n. For now, Favorit is on the Alert list.

Ayala said she expects law enforcemen­t agencies to support the new policy.

“We’re all trying to get the same thing,” she said. “We’re all trying to have a higher level of trust and a relationsh­ip with the community.”

Many of the 38 cops listed no longer work for local agencies or in law enforcemen­t, but Ayala said they were included on the list because court cases that might require their testimony may still be open.

Among the officers on the Alert list are:

 ??  ?? Ayala

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States