Orlando resident Jeremy Dewitte said he was wrongfully arrested for impersonating an officer while escorting a funeral procession.
An Orlando man is planning to pursue litigation against the Windermere Police Department after he claims he was wrongfully arrested for impersonating a law-enforcement officer Saturday, Sept. 7.
According to an arrest report, a Windermere officer witnessed Jeremy Dewitte, 39, heading westbound on Park Avenue on a motorcycle with a funeral procession near the traffic circle at Maguire Road and Park Avenue.
The officer reportedly saw Dewitte pass over double, solid-yellow center lines with oncoming traffic approaching, causing a vehicle to travel outside of its lane.
The officer conducted a traffic stop at McKinnon Road and Lake Butler Boulevard, and Dewitte was told to move to the side of the roadway. According to the report, Dewitte’s motorcycle was flagged for being stolen while the plate was being scanned. Dewitte was placed in handcuffs.
The arrest report states Dewitte became uncooperative and tried to pull away while an investigation took place. Dewitte was wearing a uniform, a badge, a bulletproof vest, a helmet that read “motor officer” and a duty belt that had a holstered, unloaded BB gun, among other items.
Dewitte called for backup from his peers using the radio device attached to his helmet before being placed in the back of a patrol car.
He faces charges of resisting an officer without violence, falsely impersonating an officer and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, according to the arrest report.
According to the Orange County Clerk of Court, Dewitte has an existing criminal record. And according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Dewitte is a registered sex offender. In 2005, he was found guilty of lewd or lascivious sexual battery with a victim between 12 and 15 years old.
But Dewitte said he did nothing wrong when he was arrested Sept. 7, claiming he was targeted by the officer because of a past history between the two.
“I had four other officers — they passed all four of them, dressed the exact same way, using the exact same equipment, looking the exact same way,” Dewitte said. “They passed all four of them and came directly to me. The sergeant got out of the truck, said my name directly, because me and him have a long, heated history back when he was with Orange County.”
Dewitte said he had the motorcycle registered two months ago and that it belongs to him.
“There was no talking or any kind of looking into anything — they immediately put me in handcuffs and started stripping me of all of my gear in the intersection, in front of my funeral, in front of my client,” Dewitte said. “They stripped me, shoved me into the back of a car, and then next thing I know, they’re telling me that, ‘Oh, you’re right, it’s not stolen. We’re charging you with just resisting an officer.’ I never resisted at any time.”
Dewitte also said he has been doing funeral processions through Windermere with his business, Metro-State Special Service, for years and has never had an issue.
“I’m feeling like that sergeant, who had a personal vendetta against me back when he was with (Orange County) … I feel like because he’s now with Windermere, he had that opportunity and he saw me,” Dewitte said. “I feel like he was holding a vendetta against me, that’s why he passed my four other officers to come harass me. I feel like I was harassed. I was wrongfully arrested.”
As of Tuesday, Sept. 11, Dewitte said he plans to meet with the Windermere Police Department.
Windermere Police Chief David Ogden said he was unable to comment on the matter, because it is considered an open investigation under Florida statute.