A video has gone viral this week, showing two Orlando police officers pulling over Aramis Ayala, Florida’s first and only black state attorney.
Bodycam footage from the evening of June 19 shows two white officers approaching Ayala’s car and asking for identification. When one asks what agency she works for, she replies: “I’m the state attorney.” Sounding flustered, the officer explains that Ayala was pulled over because when he ran the tags on her car, there was no result.
When Ayala asks why he ran her tags, the officer says they do it all the time: “That’s how we figure out if cars are stolen and that sort of thing.” He added that her windows were dark and “I don’t have a tint measure but that’s another reason for the stop.” Ayala smiles tightly, and asks for the officers’ names.
Ayala serves as the chief prosecutor of the Ninth Judicial Circuit of Florida, a position she assumed on January 1, 2017. In March, she rose to prominence when she announced that she would not seek capital punishment in any case brought before her, a move that prompted Governor Rick Scott to reassign possible death-penalty cases to another state attorney. Ayala filed multiple lawsuits, and the cases are now in federal court.
Ayala is also a cancer survivor, whose legal education at the University of Detroit was put on hold in 1999 when she was diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma. After she survived, she finished law school, and went on to pass the Florida bar exam.
According to her staff, Ayala receives regular hate mail “expressing racist sentiments,” and in April, she was sent a noose in the mail.
Although no complaint has been filed, Ayala said she did not violate any laws. She told the Independent 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 said.
Watch footage of the traffic stop below.