Society

Miami Trooper Who Stopped Fellow Officer For Speeding Sues For Harassment

| by Will Hagle

A Florida Highway Patrol Trooper who pulled over and arrested another police officer for speeding is suing the police department for the harassment that followed the incident. 

The officer, Donna Jane Watts, was on patrol near Miami one morning when she clocked a car traveling at speeds over 120 mph. Watts followed the car and ultimately discovered that it was actually another Miami police squad car. Watts pursued the vehicle with her siren and lights on, but it took her over seven minutes to finally get the vehicle to pull over. 

According to the dash cam footage, Watts approached the vehicle with her gun drawn. She yelled “Put your hands out of the window! Right now!” 

Despite discovering that the man behind the wheel was uniformed Miami Police officer Fausto Lopez, Watts still handcuffed the driver and confiscated his weapon. Lopez, who claimed he was late for an off-duty job, had a simple response to Watts at the time: “I apologize.” In the dash cam footage, Lopez appears confused about the fact that Watts is arresting him. 

Although Watts’ actions were essentially deemed justifiable after Lopez was fired for the incident, the patrol trooper claims that she began receiving a huge influx of harassment from other officers. The officers were upset that Watts had arrested one of their fellow employees. 

While Watts is unable to prove all of the specific times she was pranked or harassed by officers, the trooper does have evidence of one manner in which she was abused. According to the patrol trooper, her driver’s license information was improperly accessed by an unusual amount of officers following the incident.  

Watts had suspicion her personal license information was being investigated by other officers after finding police cars idling in her cul-de-sac and receiving threats or prank calls to her cell phone. Watts discovered her suspicion to be valid after she filed a public records request with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The report revealed that 88 police officers from 25 different agencies had accessed her driver’s license information over 200 times in a 3-month period, according to the Huffington Post. 

This improper access of data could lead to a $2,500 fine for each instance of occurrence.  

Each of the officers involved in the incident, of course, likely has a reason for why he or she accessed Watts’ information. Some officers could have sold the information, others could claim that they wanted to protect their fellow officer. 

Whether or not the actions of these officers can be deemed harassment comes down to a judge’s forthcoming ruling, which should be issued in the following few weeks. Watts has continued to work as a patrol trooper despite the harassment and the subsequent lawsuit, Officer.com reports.