Former Windermere officer sues town, police chief

By Amanda McKenzie, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, June 18, 2015, 4:16 PM EDT

A former police officer is suing the town of Windermere and its police chief.

Jason Darnell was arrested in 2013 and charged with conducting racially-based traffic stops. Those charges were later dropped.

But now Darnell’s attorneys – who gained national fame in the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin murder trials -- said they are fighting to restore his reputation.

Darnell said ever since he was arrested two years ago he has had trouble finding another job in law enforcement, or any job for that matter. He said while the charges against him were dropped, the accusations continue to have damaging effects on his life.

It was back in 2012 when Windermere police officer Alejandro Rivera filed a complaint against fellow Officer Darnell, alleging that he was instructing others to pull over black drivers.

“The allegations made to Officer Darnell were false and they could have been proven easily with a competent investigation," Darnell's attorney Benjamin Crump said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was in charge of the investigation that led to Darnell’s arrest in 2013. He was charged with five felonies and faced up to 55 years in prison. But those charges were ultimately dropped due to inconsistent witness statements.

“The allegations were initiated and completely based on the word of another officer who was ultimately convicted of purgery," Darnell's attorney Jose Baez said.

Darnell was offered reinstatement at the Windermere Police Department, but his attorneys said he did not return to work as an officer because of all of the negative publicity he received.

Since then, Darnell said he has struggled to get another job because the story is still out there on the internet.

“Every time I have to discuss it, it brings back the anxiety and the depression that I had when I was physically arrested and going through this turmoil," Darnell said.

So Darnell said he feels the only way he can clear is name is to file a civil lawsuit. He is suing the town of Windermere and a total of eight people, including the Police Chief David Ogden.

The town and Chief released this joint statement:

“The town is currently reviewing the complaint… the town is not in a position to make any statements on the allegations within the complaint.”

Darnell’s civil lawsuit is seeking a jury trial for money to cover damages relating to his pain and suffering.