DELAND, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - The DeLand Police Department announced on Monday that they have recommended that Officer Johan Mulero be terminated following an incident in September 2017.
DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger released a statement on the recommendation. In the statement, Chief Umberger says that the DeLand Police Department became aware of Mulero's conduct after a litigation was filed against the city in May 2018. The lawsuit alleged that Mulero had falsely detained Allan Kidd during a September 2017 arrest.
The lawsuit alleges that Mulero caused personal injuries and related damages to Kidd as a result of falsely detaining him. Chief Umberger's statement says that when this incident occurred, the DeLand Police Department's body camera technology did not function properly and they were therefore unaware that a full video existed of the incident. It was not until July 26th, 2018 that the DeLand Police Department learned that there was full length video of this incident. A second notice of litigation was also received that day.
Upon reviewing the video, Chief Umberger says in his statement that Mulero was placed immediately on administrative leave with pay. A formal internal affairs investigation was also ordered. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) was also provided a copy of the video to determine whether or not a criminal investigation or criminal charges were warranted.
The FDLE and the Office of the State Attorney, 7th Judicial District, have determined that no further criminal investigation was warranted. They did however refer the matter back to the DeLand Police Department, as the statement says that they found the conduct "troubling and inappropriate."
Chief Umberger's statement then reveals that the subsequent internal affairs investigation found that Mulero engaged in contact that was unbecoming of a police officer, as he made an unlawful arrest for the crime of Resisting Arrest with Violence and therefore used unnecessary and excessive force to affect an arrest that lacked any probably cause and thus any legal basis.
Chief Umberger continues, stating that his conduct was unprofessional and is not in keeping with the standard of conduct expected from members of the DeLand Police Department. Mulero also reportedly failed to apply the numerous trainings he has received in the areas of de-escalation techniques and verbal judo, thereby escalating a situation which otherwise may have been resolved without a physical confrontation.
Chief Umberger's statement closes with the following, as Umberger recommends Mulero to be terminated.
Police officers are called upon to serve our residents and we often encounter challenging scenarios and in the majority of incidents our officers display remarkable restraint, patience and valor as they respond to calls for service. However, there are times when our actions do not come anywhere near achieving the standards of excellence that we have set for our officers at the DeLand Police Department. Unfortunately, this is one of those times.
As a result of the sustained findings of misconduct on the part of Officer Johan Mulero, I recommended to the City Manager that Officer Mulero be terminated from employment as a police officer. The City Manager has upheld this recommendation.”
Watch the body camera video below.