An Orlando senior is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after a confrontation with an Orlando police officer Saturday night on North Orange Avenue.
Police say Daniel J. Daley, 84, of Orlando was transported to Florida Hospital Orlando after he "struck" an officer and the officer subdued him outside the Ivanhoe Grocery at 1820 North Orange Avenue about 11 p.m.
Daley's son, Greg Daley, said the World War II veteran was in critical condition with a broken neck. Two witnesses said the officer threw the man to the ground after he touched the officer during the dispute.
The conflict began when Daley confronted a tow truck driver trying to haul his car away from a parking lot across the street from the bar where he had been drinking.
The owners of Ivanhoe Grocery and The Caboose bar have clashed for months over use of parking spaces at the store. Signs recently were placed to discourage bar customers from occupying them.
Daley, a frequent patron of The Caboose, was arguing with the tow truck driver when the police were called.
Bar owner Tim Scott said the veteran "had a few drinks but he wasn't out of control."
Details were scarce on what happened next, but Scott said Daley touched the unidentified police officer one to three times in a non-threatening fashion. The officer responded by throwing the senior to the pavement, the bar owner said.
"I've never seen anything like it," Scott said. "He hip-checked the guy and slammed his head into the pavement. He [Daley] is too old for that."
Nicole Butler, a bartender at The Caboose, said the officer "body-slammed" Daley to the ground after the veteran put his hands on the officer's shoulders.
Police left Daley on the ground once they realized he was injured and an ambulance arrived soon after.
"The officers looked at me with this look like they knew something had gone wrong," Scott said.
Orlando Police Lt. C. Laboo, a watch commander on duty Sunday, said the information he had indicated that the person who was injured was drunk and belligerent when he "struck" the officer. He said a report stated the man was arrested and listed in stable condition but did not indicate any serious injury. A full incident report is expected today.
Laboo said his information indicated that the man's injury was "some sort of laceration to the face," that sent Daley to the hospital.
Daley said his father's condition was much worse. A photo taken at the hospital showed the veteran in a neck brace with a red welt on the left side of his forehead. His son said his father might not survive surgery to repair the severed vertebrae.
Hospital officials confirmed that the elder Daley was in critical condition and was being closely monitored.
"He's barely breathing and he might die. It's hard to understand how something like this happened," said Greg Daley, who was supposed to have breakfast with his father Sunday morning. "It wasn't like he was going to fight the officer. He's 84!"
Daley said Scott told him what happened to his father and that he had not talked to police.
The retired military veteran has been living in Orlando since 1969, after he served in both World War II and the Vietnam War. Daley has a birthday in November.
"He's never been arrested in all his life," his son said, fighting back emotion.
Three or four witnesses saw the episode, according to Scott, who also was arguing that night with Ivanhoe's owner Faith Palermo. The store owner said she called the tow company to take Daley's car because bar patrons have been hurting her business.
Palermo said she left during the confrontation with the veteran and did not see him injured.
"This is not our nature, we are embarrassed about what happened," she said.
Sorry this is dated a bit but I print them when I first hear of them or come across them. Remember that ANY run in with police is a potentially dangerous, life threatening situation ready to break out regardless of the fact that you may be an innocent bystander. Extreme caution around these deputized assholes are a must; they are as violent and deadly as any gang bangers are and they act under the authority of the state (unlike say, the Mafia or Bloods or Crips).