Florida State Trooper Who Pulled Over Speeding Cop Sues 88 Officers in 25 Jurisdictions

not an episode of reno 911dashboard camDid you hear the one about the state trooper who pulled over a cop car speeding at more than 120 miles per hour on the Florida Turnpike? (Full video here, excerpts below) The incident happened back in 2011; Donna Watts, a Florida state trooper, pulled over Miami police officer Fausto Lopez, who was off-duty and headed for a second job in his patrol car. His colleagues at the Miami Police Department jumped to his defense, with one union official calling the trooper’s actions “completely unprofessional and very reckless.” Retaliations began soon after. Almost a year later Officer Lopez was finally fired for the incident.

Now, the Orlando Sun Sentinel reports that the state trooper has filed a lawsuit related to the retaliation she experienced after the incident. From the Sun Sentinel:

Trooper Donna "Jane" Watts' 69-page lawsuit, filed in federal court Friday, seeks more than $1 million in damages. She is suing more than 100 police officers and agencies, and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The suit alleges 88 law enforcement officers from 25 jurisdictions illegally accessed her personal information more than 200 times, violating her privacy…

Other agencies have already settled with her and so are not named in the lawsuit, according to Watts' attorney Mirta Desir. Margate, for example, settled for $10,000 after two of its police officers accessed her private information, said Margate city attorney Gene Steinfeld. The two Margate officers each received a letter of reprimand as punishment.

More details on the kinds of retaliations alleged, ranging from sending pizza deliveries to her house to making threatening phone calls, in the Sun Sentinel article.

Video clips of the incident:

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  • ||

    But there's no blue wall of silence or "professional courtesy". Nope, no sir. There's no culture of pressuring other cops to pander to other cops. Nope. That's ridiculous.

  • John||

    Ask any cop how many traffic tickets they have gotten since joining the force. Amazing how they are all just perfect drivers.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Are we counting tickets they receive from red light cameras while driving impounded vehicles?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I had traffic school once from some off-duty CHP (California) who considered it his duty to not issue tickets to fellow cops. I was pleasantly surprised at how many fellow students told him that was wrong. He looked so hurt, aww, my heart went out to the poor picked-on peace officer.

  • ||

    According to super-smart pols like Dian Feinstein, these people oughta be the only ones who get to carry and use guns.

  • Rich||

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    If I'm an anti-American terrorist, people like her, Pelosi, and Boehner would have nothing about which to worry. Granted, it's a long-game approach, but the collapse of America that people of her ilk will engineer is far beyond any acts of terrorism I could pull off.

  • deified||

    At least Fausto eventually got fired.

    Donna Watts is a national hero and ought to be recognized as such. Her name ought to become synonymous with "doing the right thing even when social pressure dictates otherwise."

    All hail Donna Jane Watts.

    And let's hope she gets rich off of these lawsuits.

  • John||

    No kidding. She ought to get a medal for freedom. Won't ever happen, but it would be great.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    She has a small fan club.

  • ||

    So now we're reduced to hailing a cop who did the basic requirements of her job, and also may become a millionaire for being hassled by her pig colleagues? I don't think so.

  • Tim||

    Yes.

  • deified||

    Baby steps.

    I'm looking to preëmptively lend moral support to the next Donna Jane Watts.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, yes. As sick as the current situation is, I have to morally (although not financially) support a blue uniform swimming upstream against what we know is class 5 rapids of 'roid raging, power-drunk, adreneline junky thugs.

  • ||

    against what we know is class 5 rapids of 'roid raging, power-drunk, adreneline junky thugs.

    You forgot "supermodel-banging".

  • ||

    And power- weight-lifting

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    And giant wave riding.

  • General Butt Naked||

    ...touring with Frank Zappa...

  • croaker||

    You forgot "regular woman finger-banging on the side of the road".

  • Dan S||

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    *lights Warty beacon*

  • ||

    Not for just doing her job, but for standing up to a mountain of opposition. Most people wouldn't do that, much less cops who almost NEVER do it. Her integrity is refreshing because sadly it is so rare.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Everyday we see story after story illustrating the brutal and murderous nature of your average police officer, and you don't think it takes bravery to stand up against that as one of them? Jesus man, traitors and apostates get it the worst.

    Now, I know you work in an industry where an act of courage is taking an anti-Mountain Dew stance, but try to live outside of yourself for once.

  • ||

    I AM THE 1% WHO DOES NOT DRINK THE DEW

    Actually, I've never met a programmer who was drinking Dew, but I also tend to only meet good programmers.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Actually, I've never met a programmer who was drinking Dew...

    YOU LIE!

  • John C. Randolph||

    I have been known to drink a mountain dew instead of settling for Pepsi when I had run out of Coke.

    -jcr

  • ||

    What about Sys Admins? Our Sys Admin drinks diet Dew like it's the nectar of the gods.

  • ||

    THAT IS NOT A PROGRAMMER

    IT support staff are grunts, Kristen. Come on.

  • some guy||

    This. Gamers and tech grunts drink Dew. Programmers drink coffee or tea, depending on level of eccentricity and country of origin.

  • AlexInCT||

    I work with a couple of programmers that drink Listerne, seeing booze is now frowned upon these days. I am an iced team programmer. maybe that's cause my actual edumacation was in unjeneering.

  • ||

    I'm a web developer. I drink chamomile tea and seltzer. But that's because I'm a fattie trying to lose some poundage.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    IT staff are stupid geeky-geeks for knowing the details behind the "internet button"

  • Loki||

    According to Jonathan Coulton code monkeys like Fritos, Tab, and Mountain Dew.

    Code Monkey like Fritos
    Code Monkey like Tab and Mountain Dew

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I drank more Dr Pepper than Dew when I was programming, but I still drank a lot of Dew.

    I was good enough that I was able to retire in my 40s, but I probably still don't meet the relevant True Programmer test.

  • Brett L||

    After squandering the pile o' cash I made in my 20s and losing 50% of my income to get a degree in something interesting, I'm thinking of spending age 34-45 making great money coding and doing the same.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Hard to see a downside. I did it after pissing away four years after high school, then seven more getting a BA and JD.

    Even after a year, I still get people I worked with calling to try to get me to contract on some project they have. Back when I still enjoyed doing it, it was about as close to free money as there is.

  • John Henry||

    Back when I still enjoyed doing it, it was about as close to free money as there is.

    True no matter what the profession.

  • General Butt Naked||

    If you really enjoy stealing, then it's doubly true.

  • John Henry||

    ???

  • Ted S.||

    Do they declare all their variables?

  • ||

    Your glibness sickens me.

  • Ted S.||

    I want to see the 88 pigs who harassed her literally dragged screaming from their houses when the houses are taken to sell at auction to pay off the judgments against the pigs.

    Preferably, it should be done in front of the pigs' kids, too.

  • sarcasmic||

    And let's hope she gets rich off of these lawsuits.

    Why? It's not like a dime will come out of any policeman's pocket. Settlements will be paid by the taxpayers, and the assholes who fucked with her will all keep their jobs. Meanwhile this lady will likely retire to avoid further harassment, and Florida's only honest cop will no longer be on the streets.

  • deified||

    Why?

    pour encourager les autres

  • Ed||

    Cities should negotiate clauses into contracts that require the unions to pay out settlements.

  • some guy||

    There are a lot of things that cities should be doing, but will only start doing when the voting public gets sufficiently pissed off. Stick it to the taxpayers often enough and loudly enough and eventually there will be change*.

    *Quality of change may vary.

  • sarcasmic||

    99% of cops give the rest a bad name.

  • Aresen||

    Win.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I don't care for anyone in this story. Or anyone in Florida. Or anyone reading this comment.

  • ||

    Stop resisting, FoE.

  • Tim||

    I don't care for her shrill little shrieky voice.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    My problem with her is that she's taking the transaction personally. That's the genesis of so many bad police actions. Traffic laws aren't there for coppers to get to feel morally superior. Just do you fucking job and lose the attitude.

  • Tim||

    I think you are on to something. Is it possible that she was just in psychotic mode when this Fausto happened to cross her path?
    Does she drag "regular" speeders from their cars at gunpoint, screaming all the while?

  • Loki||

    Does she drag "regular" speeders from their cars at gunpoint, screaming all the while?

    Well there is a difference between "regular speeders" and some asshole doing 120 mph. Although acting like she just caught the second coming of Charles Manson in the act of raping a fresh corpse probably isn't called for either.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Here's the thing, I don't think it should matter. She could do her thing without getting all pissed off. Calm down, whoever he is, he's not speeding as a personal affront. It's unprofessional to get all pissy.

  • ||

    At the risk of not being glib, I agree 100% with this.

  • Tim||

    Jules: [All while Honey Bunny is screaming] Tell that bitch to be cool! Say 'bitch be cool'!
    Pumpkin: Be cool honey!
    Jules: Say bitch be cool! Tell that fuckin' bitch to chill!
    Pumpkin: Be cool Honey Bunny!
    Jules: Chill that fuckin' bitch out!
    Pumpkin: Shut up, Honey!

  • Coeus||

    He apparently does this all the time. She had already tried the professional courtesy route, and then gone to his superiors. I'd be just as pissed if I saw a cop continually breaking the law with impunity.

  • sarcasmic||

    The two Margate officers each received a letter of reprimand as punishment.

    Ooooooooooooo! A letter of reprimand! Ooooooooooooooo!

  • ||

    What stock did they use?
    Was is watermarked?
    Was it glossy or matte?!
    For fuck's sake!!!

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Dude, that goes in their permanent record! They'll have to be ignored by any police department they work for in the future!

  • Hugh Akston||

    The obvious problems that led to this incident are that cops aren't paid enough, they face too much public scrutiny, and their jobs are made too dangerous by private gun ownership.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Were there any "professional associations" named in the suit?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    To be honest, "violation of her privacy" is bullshit. Any citizen anywhere ought to be able to access the personal information and personnel files of anybody on a government payroll.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    So some Marine private in an MEU in the Indian Ocean should have all his personal and personnel info available to you? So you can stop by his house or something?

  • Chris Mallory||

    As long as he is drawing a government paycheck, yes.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Why, exactly, should his non-performance-related info be available to you?

  • John||

    So if I own stock in the corporation you and Brooks work for, should I be able to access your private information Chris? If not, why not? I do own the company. I do pay your salary to some degree.

  • Ted S.||

    Why are military workers any better than any other government-sector workers?

  • waaminn||

    That speeding punk cop should be in JAIL! Its punk cops liek that I LOVE to hear about in the news gettting clipped in the line of duty!

    www.AnonVPN.tk

  • KDN||

    It seems that AnonBot is a big fan of retirony.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "He only had one day to go..."

  • Rothbeard||

    None of you are worried that its successfully learning our language?

  • John Galt||

    Yikes! It's a cop war!

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    Pulled over a cop car (I assume) she knew wasn't stolen, driver is a cop in uniform, driving 120+ arguing, yet still treated him like anyone else.

    I like her. She certainly is unfit to be a cop.

  • ||

    My dog destroys even the black Kongs.

    (This is neither sexual nor racist you sick bastards!)

  • Steve G||

    Impressive, my dobe can destroy everything but the blacks... kongs that is.

  • Rothbeard||

    But it IS nintendist!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, any law enforcement personnel accessing computer records in the state's "justice network" for unofficial purposes is subject to discipline. Apparently the accused officers accessed similar restricted resources to get information on her. Audit records should show who accessed what, and the lawsuit shouldn't be their only concern if Florida justice records officials take their controls seriously.

  • T||

    if Florida justice records officials take their controls seriously

    Mighty big if there, FoE.

  • wingnutx||

    They didn't do such a good job of controlling George Zimmerman's records, selectively leaking them to the press and all.

  • Brett L||

    If the DHSMV is behind her on this, it'll be a shit-storm. Haven't heard anything to that effect, yet. I may have to drop my local rep a note.

  • Restoras||

    "Discipline" really means "Paid Vacation", right?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think it varies with the seriousness of the offense, which is as it should be. As I recall someone did get fired, but that was an emergency dispatcher. Po-po might not get the same treatment.

  • KMA Too||

    Of course this (FoE's point) is the case. It's not so much the states' laws/rules (all 50 of them have it), but because the FBI mandates it for any and every user the the Law Enforcement Telecommunication System...which is every state.

    It's not so much WHAT the officers did, it's more HOW they did it. The info is readily available privately, or through a FOIA request.

  • radar||

    Actually, if you read the linked story about Lopez getting fired, Watts comes off looking even better:

    "The internal probe found that Officer Lopez showed a “practice and pattern” of reckless speeding. Lopez routinely clocked speeds of more than 100 miles per hour while off duty between September and November 2011, according to the report.

    Officially, Lopez has been clocked going more than 90 miles per hour more than 80 times.

    Lopez was clocked by state trooper Donna Jane Watts doing 120 mph on October 11, 2011.

    When he finally pulled over, she arrested the uniformed officer at gunpoint, although reports came out later that a supervisor had told her to “back off” and not pull Lopez over."

    Not only did she have the integrity to pull this guy over, she ignored a supervisor who told her to let the guy continue to break the law. Good for her!

  • John Galt||

    It's both a big plus and a curse that I live in an area of the nation with very professional and honest LEOs. A big plus because I live here, and curse because I don't dare move somewhere else. Just too risky, real life experience has proven that bad cops can make life a living hell.

  • ||

    Mind sharing where that is? And does your area have other positives? Drawbacks? A pro/com list would be helpful. I live in a fiscally responsible town in upstate NY so locally, I'm good but my state, as everyone knows, elected Chuck Schumer to office multiple times among other offenses.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "if Florida justice records officials take their controls seriously."

    Were that a wager, I know which way I would bet, unfortunately.

  • wingnutx||

    Speaking of cops being more equal than others, house democrats just introduced a magazine ban for civilians.

    The so-called “Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act” will seek to limit magazines, belts, drums, feed strips and “similar device[s]” to 10 rounds of ammunition. While people who own high-capacity magazines and devices would be able to keep them, they would be prohibited from buying others or transferring existing ones.

    “The bill would also exempt retired and current law enforcement officials who use those devices for ‘purposes of law enforcement (whether on or off duty)’ as well as contractors who have been licensed to carry the devices for security purposes required by federal law,” The Huffington Post reports.

    It's not just a ban on new magazines, it's a ban on transfer, so you will never be legally able to get a used one or even leave them to your kids.

  • sarcasmic||

    BFD, just add it to the long list of felonies the average person commits on a daily basis.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    It's not just a ban on new magazines, it's a ban on transfer, so you will never be legally able to get a used one or even leave them to your kids.

    How are we expected to prove that the ones we currently own were purchased legally?

  • wingnutx||

    Maybe they'll train a dog to point out illegal magazines.

  • ||

    How the fuck does a retired leo use ANY device for "purposes of law enforcement"?

  • ||

    It is for show. It wont go anywhere.

  • wingnutx||

    Please write your rep and the judiciary chairman of the house to help make sure of that.

    Hopefully it dies in committee.

  • John Galt||

    Maybe.

  • ||

    I have no doubt my Rep will vote for it, no matter what I say. He makes no bones about his elitist, old-school Democrat, Tamany Hall thuggish views.

  • sarcasmic||

    Ditto here. I can gauge the outcome of an election by taking the inverse of my ballot. The more disgustingly liberal the candidate, the greater the chance of them getting elected. Writing them letters is a waste of time.

  • wingnutx||

    That's why I write other people's reps, especially ones that are on the fence.

    Usually I'll use a rep's own office address so the form will go through.

    Right now the most important one is the new chairman of the judiciary committee, Bob Goodlatte.

  • sarcasmic||

    Why would they give a shit about what you think? It's not like you have the power to vote them out of office. I think you're engaging in some wishful thinking.

  • Ted S.||

    As if this is going to get out of the House?

  • ||

    Sorry to nitpick, but the Sun Sentinel is out of South Florida. The Orlando Sentinel is a separate rag out of Orlando.

    Also, ORLANDOOOOOOOO!!! Fuck Lake Eola.

  • Corneliusm||

    Lake Eola is disgusting, and so is downtown Orlando. I avoid it when I can.

    That's why I moved to Seminole County (near Chuluota).

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    And Fuck Michigan!

  • John Galt||

    Screw New Jersey!

  • Restoras||

    Ick!

  • Ed||

    Derp

  • Loki||

    More details on the kinds of retaliations alleged, ranging from sending pizza deliveries to her house to making threatening phone calls...

    They really do have the mentality of spoiled teenagers throwing a fit over someone tattling to the teacher, don't they?

  • mr simple||

    Well, they are a bunch of bullies who likely have been drunk since high school.

  • MasterDarque||

    Lol he is pleading like everyone else who has to endure worthless "speeding tickets" - Sad situation to have to pay these sponges to ticket people who are going to work.

  • Steve G||

    Just out of curiousity to any LE types out there, how does one cop know whether or not another cop of a different uniform is responding to something legit? In other words, how did she know this was a foul? Location/Jurisdiction? Radio?
    Always wondered how cops of different badges wave each other off if they are doing legit business and happen to be pulled over...

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm not an LE type (I prefer honest work), but it is my understanding that cops are only allowed to travel a certain amount over the posted speed limit when responding to a call.
    Round here a lady cop t-boned a minivan, killing the family inside, and she was eventually reprimanded because they found she was going more than the allowed 30mph (I think?) over the posted limit.
    So going 120mph is a foul, regardless of whether or not they're responding to a call.

  • General Butt Naked||

    That sounds plausible.

    They are also probably required to flash their lights when maintaining a certain velocity.

  • Ted S.||

    Only reprimanded? No vehicular manslaughter trial? Why am I not surprised?

  • sarcasmic||

    To be fair, she was forced to take a long paid vacation and think about what she'd done.
    Seriously though, she was only reprimanded because of the speed. Had she not been going so fast, the accident would have been blamed on the dead family, who likely would have been ordered to pay restitution to the state police for totaling a cruiser.

  • JeremyR||

    There was a cop in Illinois a couple years ago, speeding while texting, hit a car with a couple of teenaged girls in it, killed them both.

    It actually went to trial, but he got off. He got fired from his job, but apparently is a cop someplace else.

  • Corneliusm||

    Considering this was on the turnpike, that's either state (FHP) or county territory. The police car was Miami PD- he was obviously outside of his jurisdiction (he was headed to Hollywood for a security gig). Cops also have radios and are aware of any legitimate reasons to be speeding 120+ mph through traffic. Judging from the traffic stop video, it didn't appear that he had his flashers on (that's a no-no unless there's a real emergency).

    Not a cop, but I used to sleep with one.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Not a cop, but I used to sleep with one.

    Have the bruises healed?

    (just kidding... kinda)

  • robc||

    Last time I was in traffic school, the cop mentioned that the KY state troopers (but not necessarily the locals) are trained to never drive at the speed limit on the interstate.

    Driving 65 in a 65 causes traffic backups. They should either drive 55-60 or 75-80. There is no problem passing a cop who is doing 55. And if you pass a cop doing 80, you have earned your ticket.

    Of course, 120 is right out.

  • sarcasmic||

    Hey, I've got a brewing question.

    In a recent cold snap my basement got near 40, taking my fermenting lager out of its happy place. The temp dropped to about 43 and the yeast all dropped out. I figure if I get the temp back to 50 or so and roust the yeast, that all should be well. Your thoughts?

  • robc||

    Sure.

    I was just lagering in my garage and it dropped to 40 a few times without any problem.

    Weird that all the yeast dropped at only 43.

    BTW, dont forget to do a diacetyl rest. I moved mine to about 60F on Wednesday, will rack to secondary and drop to low 30s tomorrow.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I concur...Also, get a better insulated lagering fridge.

  • sarcasmic||

    Lagering fridge? What's that?

    I use my basement for fermenting lager in the winter because it gets cold enough. As far as lagering goes, that happens when the keg goes into the thermostat controlled chest freezer.

  • sarcasmic||

    Weird that all the yeast dropped at only 43.

    I know. That's why I was thinking it might be done.

  • sarcasmic||

    It was only a week into fermentation. If it was an ale I wouldn't worry, but it's not. Then again the starting gravity was low. Only 1.038, but still it can't be done, can it?

  • robc||

    It could be done. One week is quick for a lager, but only 1.038, then yeah, it could be done.

    Have you measured? What is the gravity now? If it is terminal or near terminal, instead of 50, raise it to 60 and rouse the yeast for the diacetyl rest.

  • sarcasmic||

    I haven't measured, no. I'm uber paranoid about infections. But you're right. It's the only way to be sure.

  • robc||

    If you had some decent fermentation time so that you have alcohol, chance of infection is now lower. Dont be stupid, but pulling a sample for measuring gravity isnt a real risk.

    One time I was about to keg and I said "Hey!, why is there a piece of paper floating in my fermenter?" Yeah, it wasnt paper. So I scooped the colony of bacteria or whatever out (it wasnt yeast) and kegged anyway. It was still a decent beer. I didnt even get any cool funk from the infection.

    I also killed that keg fast before it could get any worse.

  • sarcasmic||

    I've had to pitch a few batches due to rafts of nastiness floating on top.
    Since then I replaced all tubes, and the fermenting brew only comes into contact with glass. Also I think that was the time I started using PBW and StarSan. Haven't had an infection since.

  • Ted S.||

    Also I think that was the time I started using PBW and StarSan.

    I never would have thought using Pabst Blue Wibbon would make your brewing go better.

  • Lyle||

    Unions.

  • ||

    It soon became apparent that some of the burglar alarms on the next block had been deliberately set off by one police tribe in order to lay an ambush for the other. Cars with screaming sirens converged on the area, only to find themselves being picked off by helicopters which came thudding through the air between the city's mountainous tower blocks.

    Chapter 5, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

  • attractions guide||

    Why we can not live togethere happy?

  • Sharke||

    In 2006 I was walking with the light on a crossing next to the police headquarters on Park Row, Manhattan at around 6am. A car had stopped at the light, and when I was walking directly in front of it, the driver deliberately lunged forward (from stationary) and hit me in the leg. My natural reaction was to pound the hood with my fist and yell "HEY!"

    Immediately, a heavy set man in his 50's jumped out of the car, put me in an arm lock, slammed me against the hood and spewed profanities and threats. He eventually let go of me and showed me his I.D. - he was a police lieutenant (I later found out by Googling, from Long Beach NY). He stank of whiskey and was visibly drunk. He frequently hit me in the chest with the heel of his hand, to the point where I was doubled over backward on the hood. There were non stop profanities and threats of the kind you'd expect to hear from a lowlife thug. Throughout this, I noticed an NYPD police officer who was stood guard at the entrance to police HQ, watching the whole thing, and I wondered why he didn't come over. When at last the drunken POS got back into his car and drove off (drunk), I approached the officer and said "you saw all of that, right?" He just silently shook his head and turned his back to me.

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