Oviedo, FL — Newly released body camera footage shows the moments leading up to and after a police-involved shooting in Florida. On September 1st, 2016, Oviedo Police Officer Matthew Danler, 37, discharged his service weapon at least six times into a Chrysler 300 occupied by Jason Scott and his wife, an African American couple. Police
Police were responding to a 911 call around 6 am, and according to the footage, approached the Scott’s vehicle, at which time the vehicle quickly sped away. Danler appeared to waste no time in firing his weapon into the car, later radioing dispatch that the driver attempted to run him over with his car.
The shooting happened after someone called 911, asking that police be sent to the home of Scott’s wife and children.
The caller did not explain before hanging up.
“The vehicle attempted to hit me,” he told the dispatcher as he “approached” the vehicle. Unless the police department releases an unredacted video, we may never know just how many shots Danler fired into the vehicle as he attempted to end the lives of its occupants.
After further investigation into the shooting, the FL State Attorney’s office decided to charge Officer Danler with two counts of aggravated battery and one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle. The police reported to the news that only six shots were fired into the vehicle, but video footage from news crews on the scene during the September investigation reveal nine bullets may have been fired into the vehicle where the Scotts, two unarmed African Americans, were seated attempting to flee the scene. And get away they did, but not without injuries. Jason Scott was shot three times, in the arm and the stomach, and his wife Beatrice was injured by flying glass.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Scott fled, drove about 13 miles, then left his car near the State Road 408 and State Road 417 interchange and walked two more blocks to see a friend. The friend called paramedics, and Scott was brought to ORMC.” He was later arrested and sent to jail. “Jason Scott was charged with fleeing and eluding. On Dec. 14, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 100 days in jail, time he had already served,” writes the Sentinel.
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t the first time Officer Danler had been in trouble within his own police department. In three years, and on three separate occasions, Danler was the subject of internal investigations. It appears, from his own service records, he had a real problem with authority, and may be suffering from some sort of narcissistic personality complex. According to Orlando’s News Channel 6;
The records show Danler was suspended in July 2014 for violations of obedience and safe driving for going 104 mph through Oviedo during an unauthorized pursuit.
In March 2015, Danler was suspended for turning off his camera after pulling over a detective who may have been intoxicated. Danler allowed the detective to leave and did not immediately report the traffic stop.
In September 2015, Danler was terminated for insubordination after pulling over a tree trimmer despite direct orders not to. Records also show he got into a shouting match with a supervisor.
In one of those rare occasions where police chiefs actually do their jobs to weed out the bad apple police officers, Chief Jeffrey Chudnow terminated Danler’s employment with the police department but was forced to rehire him after the police union fought for his reinstatement. The police union president Mike Scudiero of Coastal PBA/PEA made the following statement while the officer-involved shooting was taking place by the State Bureau of Investigations;
Officer Danler is awaiting the completion of the investigation with the belief it will show that his shooting was a clean shoot, and that it was justified under the circumstances…We stand by Officer Danler, as we do all officers when they are faced with making life-or-death decisions. Officer Danler has an accomplished history in Oviedo and has never had allegation of unnecessary use of force. We look forward to helping him during this difficult time so that he may return to the job he loves expeditiously.
Fortunately, the SBI did not agree with Scudiero’s assessment and charged the officer with the crimes which nearly killed the Scott family, and tragically injured Mr. Scott, whose lawyer, Mike Snure, had a lot to say about the incident. Snure defended his client, stating the video clearly shows his client in no way attempted to hit the officer and was on his side of the road as he sped away.
Critics contend there are only a “few bad apples” like Danler, but his work history and criminal actions may serve to illustrate the system’s own failures to terminate the employment of an officer who wouldn’t follow the rules, had no respect for authority, and was ultimately protected by his obviously very powerful police officers union.
You be the judge. Take a look at the video and comment below. Does it appear that Mr. Scott was attempting to hit and injure Officer Danler? Should Officer Danler have been allowed to be rehired? Do you think Officer Danler was justified in discharging his weapon into the Scott’s vehicle?