Orange County, FL – Three Orange County sheriff’s deputies were suspended for failing to properly search and handcuff a suspect who then brought a gun into the jail and took several people hostage.
The incident began at about 5 p.m. on March 21, 2020 when Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffery James-Potts stopped a vehicle on World Center Drive near South Apopka-Vineland Road, WKMG reported.
Deputies said they smelled marijuana in the car.
They searched the vehicle and found three pounds of marijuana, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
They arrested the driver and the passenger, 25-year-old Eric Stanley Jr.
The internal investigation report said the deputies handcuffed the driver, but they couldn’t get the metal handcuffs to fit Stanley’s wrists, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
So Deputy James-Potts used two pairs of plastic flex cuffs to secure him instead.
The investigation found that Deputy James-Potts had put the cuff on Stanley’s “left lower forearm” instead of tightening it on his wrist, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The manner in which Stanley’s arms were secured gave him “almost full range of motion, which should have been noticed by the deputies,” according to the report.
Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies Leonardo Sauri Le Hardy and Emiliano Silva searched the suspect before he was placed in the police vehicle, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The investigative report said that Deputies Sauri Le Hardy and Silva “failed to locate a firearm concealed in [his] waistband.”
Bodycam video showed the deputies talked to each other about how they had expected to find a gun on Stanley and were surprised they didn’t, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
The investigative report said that the loose flex cuffs “facilitated in concealing of the firearm during the searches,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Bodycam showed Stanley had already “removed the flex cuff from his left wrist, putting both wrists into the right flex cuff” by the time the deputies arrived at the jail with him, according to the report.
The report said Stanley was inside the jail nurse’s triage area when he “removed his left hand from the flex cuff [and] retrieved a firearm from the left side of his waistband,” the Orland Sentinel reported.
Stanley pointed his gun at law enforcement officers and jail staff and said, “Not today,” according to the report.
The investigative report said that’s when Stanley took Deputy James-Potts hostage, along with the nurse and a jail officer, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Then Stanley “handcuffed Deputy James-Potts and began removing his police radio,” the report said.
The report said that Deputy James-Potts tried to take the gun away from Stanley at one point but he “struck Deputy James-Potts with his forearm, which caused law enforcement officers in the Booking and Release Center sally port to discharge their firearms,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Stanley was shot in the shoulder. But the standoff didn’t end.
The wounded gunman took cover behind a desk and refused to come out.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina said deputies negotiated with Stanley for more than 90 minutes before he dropped his gun and the SWAT Team went in, WKMG reported.
A public documents request by the Orlando Sentinel revealed that Deputies James-Potts, Sauri Le Hardy and Silva were each suspended for 40 hours without pay a few weeks after the incident for their failure to properly search and secure their prisoner.
Orange County Corrections Chief Louis Quiñones Jr. told WKMG that he had made several changes to the booking process since Stanley’s standoff.
Chief Quiñones said he banned plastic flex cuffs and now all arrestees must go through a metal detector when they enter and be patted down.
He told WKMG he also added an extra officer and surveillance camera to the intake area and equipped some of the officers with stun guns.
Stanley was charged with armed kidnapping, aggravated assault on officers, and a slew of other charges, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
He is scheduled to face trial in June.