Some parts of Florida allow a small fine for marijuana possession and apparently in Orlando, Florida you pay in blood. That is what one teen found out this week as he was brutally assaulted by a cop for suspected marijuana possession.
The story starts with three Kissimmee teenagers making a trip to downtown Orlando to catch a mewithoutYou concert at The Social. While in Orlando, the three 19 year old boys sought refuge from the rain in a residential parking garage as they waited for their Uber driver after the show. That was apparently a big mistake.
A nearby tenant from the residential parking garage called authorities because they smelt marijuana wafting into the building. A bicycle cop arrived to the scene to question the three boys Marlo Manzi, Jazmin Ahmed and Ryan Diaz.
The officer, identified as Michael Napolitano, struggled to find some semblance of probable cause. Probable cause would allow him to search the teens legally. The officer claimed he also smelt marijuana. Napolitano proceeded to let the teens know that they were being detained for a search.
The teens being rather law savvy, were not in a hurry to have their rights violated. Manzi pulled out his cell phone and began recording the incident to protect the teens. Reports claim this struck a nerve with the officer who immediately attempted to confiscate the phone.
The only problem is, officer Napolitano does not have this right in the state of Florida. You can only confiscate recording devices if they are impeding the officer from doing his job. The three teens began tossing the phone amongst each other to retain their property from Napolitano. The officer became enraged that he was the monkey in a game of Monkey-in-the-Middle.
“You are being detained right now ’cause you smell like marijuana!” Napolitano said, desperately trying to take the cell phone that had been handed to Diaz.
At this point in the video, Napolitano is clearly enraged and ready for vengeance. Manzi, sensing the officers demeanor, tries to de-escalate the situation with empathy.
“We’re being detained because it smells like marijuana, we understand,” Manzi said.
Officer Napolitano wasn’t accepting any peace offerings and continued to try to snatch the phone from Diaz. Manzi informed Napolitano that he is not allowed to grab his phone. “Yes I can sir!” Napolitano shouted. “You do not understand how this works. You are detained. You do not run the show.”
When Diaz passed the phone back to Manzi, Napolitano tackled Diaz to the ground. Napolitano then proceeded to punch Diaz multiple times in the face and body; similar to MMA’s ground and pound. Even as a second officer comes to the scene, to help in restraining the teen, Napolitano continues punching Diaz.
After the teens rights were successfully violated; they were arrested. The teens were charged with a slew of offenses from battery on a law enforcement officer to trespassing. One thing they weren’t charged for was marijuana possession, that is because they didn’t have any. You heard that right, the entire reason for the search was unwarranted.
In the end, this shows how detrimental strict marijuana laws are for the community. If this incident had taken place in Miami instead of Orlando, the boys could have left with just a $100 fine. Instead they are leaving with felony charges, threat of a criminal record, a black eye and a huge hurdle for any background check in their future.
The only thing the boys can be thankful for is that this altercation with the law didn’t end in deadly force. Do you think a less harsh penalty for marijuana would have avoided this violent confrontation in the first place?