Russ Smith, the tow truck operator involved in a confrontation with 84-year-old Orlando Daniel Daley last Sunday morning (September 19), told the local Fox News affiliate that the 84-year-old man was intoxicated and belligerent, but posed no conceivable threat to anyone.
Smith was sent to impound Daley’s car, which was parked near the Ivanhoe Grocery Store (there is some dispute as to whether it was in a posted no-parking zone). The incident ended up with Daley being slammed head-first into the pavement, leaving him struggling for his life after emergency surgery to repair broken vertebrae. Predictably, the police have charged the victim with “assaulting an officer” for the supposed offense of provoking his assailant by touching his state-consecrated person.
Smith, an employee of Moldon’s Towing, recalls that Daley hit him at least three times, “and three times I told him, `please, stop hitting me.’” Somehow the private tow truck operator, unlike the 26-year-old Orlando police officer who body-slammed the crippled octogenarian in “self-defense,” was able to withstand this onslaught without resorting to retaliatory violence: “The three hits I took from this older man was not hard at all… [He] shouldn’t have put his hand on me but at the same token I took into consideration that he was pretty elderly and it didn’t hurt at all.” Smith considered the incident so trivial that he didn’t bother to tell the cops about it when they arrived: “I never mentioned the fact that he hit more or anything to the officer I didn’t think it needed to go that far.”
Eyewitness Faith Palermo, who told her daughter to make the 911 call that brought the cops to the scene (and what a helpful gesture that proved to be), says that Daley never struck Officer Travis Lamont, who was so terrified by being touched by an elderly Mundane that he face-planted the old man into the pavement. By her account, Daley “whacked” Lamont on the shoulder, then “shook him just slightly and said, ‘Listen to me! You have to listen to me!””
According to attorney Mark NeJame, who is representing Daly’s family, the older man — who is almost entirely deaf, and was simply trying to communicate — was agitated because his car was not parked in a posted no-parking zone. He also reports that there have been three complaints filed against Officer Lamont, who has been on the force for roughly a year (although NeJame hastens to point out that little is known about the merits of those complaints).
The original 911 call described the elderly Daley as an “ex-military” man who was “going crazy” and “threatening” people. Another call described Daley as a “little elderly man” who was being chewed out by a woman who was “screaming” at him “like a maniac” and “harassing” Daley while his car was being towed.
A call made following the “scuffle” (that is, Lamont’s assault) complained that Daley “touched a police officer. This young police officer flips him through the air on his face.”
“Does the guy need paramedics?” asked the dispatcher.
“Well, he’s 86 and he got slammed on his head,” the caller replied. “This is totally over the top…. Believe me, I’m going to be talking to the whole hierarchy up to the governor if I have to, because what you guys did is absolutely over the top — an 86-year-old man, flipping him on his head.”
The calls suggest abundant bad blood between the owners of Ivahoe Grocery and the neighboring Caboose Bar, which precipitated an ugly mess that should have been carefully and patiently de-escalated. Unfortunately, de-escalation is a skill associated with peace officers, rather than the paramilitary caste commonly referred to as “law enforcement officers.” Couple that fact with the cultivated statist tendency of too many people to seek police intervention in petty disputes, and episodes of state-inflicted criminal violence of this kind are all but inevitable.3:17 pm on September 21, 2010 Email William Norman Grigg