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They quickly realized they stopped the wrong woman.
On June 19, two police officers in Orlando pulled over Florida’s first and only black state attorney Aramis Ayala. After Ayala handed an officer her ID, told them she was a state attorney, and asked a few simple questions about why she was stopped—because she was doing nothing wrong.
Police pulled over this black State Attorney — and then couldn't even explain why pic.twitter.com/0mjmTFUkov— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 12, 2017
In the video of the incident caught on the officer’s body cam, the officer said that the reason for the stop was that they had run her car’s license plates and no information came back on the vehicle. Ayala then asked why the officer decided to run her tags.
“Oh, we run tags through all the time, whether it’s a traffic light and that sort of stuff. That’s how we figure out if cars are stolen and that sort of thing,” he explained to her. He also cited her dark window tint in another attempt to explain why she was stopped.
After Ayala heard the explanation, she nodded and asked for the officers contact information. One officer wrote it down before telling her to have a good day.
A statement was later released by the Orlando Police Department about the incident. “In regards to the video, which was released by the Orlando Police Department last month, the officers stated the tag did not come back as registered to any vehicle. As you can see in the video, the window tint was dark, and officers would not have been able to tell who, or how many people, were in the vehicle,” the statement said.
In her own statement to the Independent, Ayala said that her tags were properly registered and her tint was not illegal. While no complaint has been filed, she stated that her “goal is to have a constructive and mutually respectful relationship between law enforcement and the community.”
“I look forward to sitting down to have an open dialogue with the Chief of Orlando Police Department regarding how this incident impacts that goal,” she wrote.
In April, Ayala received a death threat in the form of a noose sent to her in the mail after she decided not to pursue the death penalty in her cases. Ayala’s office often receives hate mail that includes racist sentiments.
Sarah Jasmine Montgomery is a Daily Dot contributor whose writing and criticism cover all things pop culture, with an emphasis on how communities of color impact physical and digital cultural spaces. Her writing and photography have also appeared in Texas Monthly, the Fader, Complex, and Billboard.