Orlando Police Chief Regains Job through Arbitration

The Orlando police officer terminated for punching a handcuffed man in March 2014 has been awarded a return to his job, with back pay, according to an arbitration ruling.

The arbitrator ruled the City of Orlando did not have just cause for terminating William Escobar and had not given him a fair investigation before termination.

Escobar was fired from his position with the Orlando police department in January 2015 after an incident involving him punching and kicking a man during an arrest was seen on video. The internal-affairs report stated he violated OPD’s standards of conduct, used excessive force, filed a false report, mistreated the arrested, and failed to obey laws and procedures. Escobar claimed he was defending himself in the incident. He was charged with misdemeanor battery and perjury, but was acquitted of the charges later in 2015.

According to the opinion of the arbitrator, Orlando PD “rushed to judgment” in Escobar’s termination, saying the city relied on news articles which were unproven. The arbitrator further stated in his opinion, “The record indicates that the city improperly used these articles to support its unfounded allegation that this news coverage brought shame upon the OPD. A fair investigation would not have relied on this unproven information.”

In addition to regaining employment with back pay, Escobar’s employment record was also wiped clean. According to Escobar’s attorney, he is “overjoyed” at being cleared of wrongdoing and being able to return to a job he loves.

According to a spokesperson for Orland PD, Escobar will be able to return to his job after completing any training required by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and will be assigned to a unit based on vacancies.

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