Report: Fla. officers violated policies when pushing suspect off roof

Video released to public shows a sergeant telling an officer to 'just push' suspect

Cristóbal Reyes
Orlando Sentinel

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A Kissimmee police sergeant resigned and an officer was suspended after one of them pushed a car theft suspect off a roof earlier this year, according to an internal investigation released Wednesday.

Officer Plenio Massiah received the 8-hour suspension last week after an internal review of the arrest found he and Sgt. Anthony Amada violated Kissimmee Police Department policies governing the use of force, the 41-page report said. Massiah forfeited a vacation day.

Amada resigned in June before Internal Affairs investigators could recommend he be demoted and fired.

“Personnel who have reached a supervisory position are held to even greater standards than officers or civilian personnel because their guidance, influence and knowledge contribute to the overall success of the department," a memo recommending his termination said.

On March 3, Kissimmee police officers chased around a house an 18-year-old Yadiel Torres, who was accused of stealing his girlfriend’s car weeks before. Massiah chased the suspect to the roof of the home, and he was looking to jump but hesitated after seeing two officers waiting for him below.

“Just push him off,” Amada said. Massiah pushed the teen, causing him to fall to the ground, and Torres was tased by Amada and arrested.

Body cam footage released by the department shows officers trying to arrest Torres after his ex-girlfriend’s car was found in front of a friend’s house. Torres sat on the edge of the roof as Amada ordered him to jump, but Torres told investigators he hesitated because he was scared of getting hurt.

While Torres wasn’t hurt by the fall, a memo by Lt. Michael Tilton said the decision to push Torres off the roof “could have resulted in serious injury.”

Massiah, who didn’t have a disciplinary history before that incident, pushed Torres off the edge before he could stand up, taking Amada’s instructions as permission to do so, according to the report.

“Officer Massiah admitted it was a poor choice to get on the roof with Mr. Torres,” the report said. “But he felt he had very limited choices when he was in close proximity to Mr. Torres, so he pushed him to the waiting officers below.”

Investigators tried to interview Amada following his resignation, but he declined an interview after speaking with a union representative.

Amada, a 14-year veteran who was promoted in 2017, was facing a separate excessive force violation prior to his resignation, according to a memo. He also was suspended 120 hours around the time of the Torres’ arrest for carelessness in a 2018 case involving a pursuit.

Torres later pleaded guilty to grand theft of a motor vehicle, resisting arrest without violence, and violating probation from an earlier domestic violence case, according to court records. He was sentenced to probation.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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