A year ago, Orlando Police Officer Jonathan Mills was reassigned from the department’s elite tactical squad to patrol duty for making a rude, biased remark about a woman’s hair. He was also the subject of two very serious excessive force lawsuits settled in 2017 that cost the city $130,000.
Mills received an oral reprimand for his conduct during a March 2016 traffic stop in Parramore, Fla. His partner pulled a Black woman who was suspected of buying drugs out of her car when she refused to get off the phone.
Mills was recorded by his own body camera telling people watching the arrest that they didn’t know how to buy a house and his house was “bigger than these two buildings combined.”
He also told a Black woman, “That hairdo is sad. You’ve got to get your hair done, girl.”
After those remarks were seen, Internal Affairs Manager Dwain Rivers called Mills’ behavior embarrassing and said it reflected poorly on the department. He was basically demoted after that.
Mills was also accused of serious violence. In one of the two cases that turned into a lawsuit, a man alleged Mills reached down the back of his pants and sexually assaulted him while looking for drugs during a 2014 traffic stop. In the other, another man accused Mills of slamming him to the ground for no reason during an October 2013 traffic stop.
Despite all of that, in February Mills received an award “for being the most proactive member of his squad” and being a leader and motivator to squad mates, according to the department’s annual report.
After the Orlando Sentinel realized that Mills had received this award, Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolón said he is reviewing how the department hands out its annual awards.
“We routinely evaluate our policies and procedures and in this specific area, I decided that we need to improve our selection and evaluation process when it comes to awards… Going forward, I will be working with my command staff as we go through our awards policies and we will be implementing changes to those policies to ensure that the entire process is beyond reproach,” Rolón told the Orlando Sentinel.