December 10, 2023

Former OPD officer who kicked handcuffed man, falsified reports asks for job back – again

A controversial Central Florida police officer who has escaped termination twice is again asking to be put on patrol.

William Escobar first became known to the region in 2014 when, as an Orlando Police Officer, he was caught on camera punching, dragging and kicking a handcuffed man.

The department fired Escobar and he was charged with battery, but a jury found him not guilty. An arbitrator ruled the department rushed to terminate him based on the news coverage and ordered his reinstatement.


However, Escobar was again embroiled in controversy for two separate incidents in 2020. He submitted a false report based on a bogus drug investigation, and failed to report possible crimes he witnessed while hiding in a woman’s closet.

The department placed him on a “last chance” contract – meaning any other mistakes would lead to his termination.

However, the state attorney’s office placed Escobar on their “Brady List” of witnesses who could not be called outside of extreme circumstances because they lacked credibility. That put the department in an awkward position.

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“From our perspective, it rendered him essentially unable to perform the essential requirements of his job,” an OPD representative said. “That’s what he needed to do — was to go out and make arrests and be able to testify in court.”

Then-OPD Chief Orlando Rolón opted to strip Escobar of his badge and move him to the 911 center as a civilian, keeping him on the payroll, but in a position where he wouldn’t be needed in a courtroom.

Tuesday, Escobar and union representatives, along with OPD leaders, faced an arbitrator on the first day of a three-day hearing. The arbitrator is being tasked with determining whether Escobar deserved to get his job back again – and the pension and benefits he had to forgo.

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Escobar’s allies argued he was demoted without due process, especially because his appearance on the Brady List was not a direct result of any mistake he made after his “last chance” contract was signed.

“He requested a hearing; they have done nothing. It’s been over a year, and they have done nothing,” his representative said.

However, OPD maintained the transfer was just that – and not a demotion.

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“He would have been terminated if it was a discipline-related situation,” Rolón testified.

Escobar did not say anything during Tuesday’s session, even as a prosecutor called as a witness inferred Escobar’s credibility issues would jeopardize almost any case he worked on, though he added State Attorney Andrew Bain was undergoing a review of the Brady List.

“The office’s position is that Mr. Escobar will not be called as a witness,” the prosecutor said.

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