SANFORD – Sergeant Anthony Raimondo, the patrol officer who was initially in charge of the scene on the night Trayvon Martin was killed, was also involved in an alleged police cover-up in 2010. Raimondo was at the center of a controversy that ensued when Justin Collison, the son of a Sanford police lieutenant and part of a prominent family, punched a homeless black man but was not arrested.
Local news station WFTV broke this story, which revealed that preferential treatment had been given to Collison by police after he attacked and broke the nose of his African-American victim, Sherman Ware.
THE CITIZENS OF SANFORD RECALL POLICE BRUTALITY IN THEIR COMMUNITY
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Raimondo was the patrol sergeant in charge on the night Collison, who is white, was first detained. Raimondo made the decision not to press charges against Collison, which a former Sanford elected official told theGrio was at the behest of his superiors.
Video evidence of Collison punching Ware from behind and driving his face into a pole was posted on YouTube. Despite Sanford police being in possession of this video, no charges were filed against Collison until local news outlets exposed the cover-up.
One month later, mounting pressure over this oversight led to Collison’s arrest. He was subsequently charged with felony battery and disorderly conduct, and paid restitution to Ware for medical bills and personal damages. Collison also made donations to area non-profits at Ware’s request, as part of his compensation.
These events sparked an investigation by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office into the conduct of the nine officers who were on duty the night Collison was wrongfully released without being charged. Ultimately, the scandal led to the retirement of former Sanford Police Chief Brian Tooley, who announced his retirement the day after Sanford police authorities met with the local NAACP over the incident.
Some perceived this case as part of a pattern of law enforcement abuses that have taken place in central Florida since early 2010, due to a lack of police oversight.
Currently, “Raimondo has three validated complaints and another one pending,” WFTV reported on March 16, 2012.
A former Sanford city commissioner, who wishes to remain unidentified, told theGrio that Raimondo attempted to give Martin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the night the youth was killed, an account that has been confirmed by the police report from that night.
TheGrio has reached out to Sanford police department Public Information Officer Sgt. David Morgenstern about Raimondo’s involvement in both incidents, and is awaiting comment. Officers of the Sanford police department have been ordered not to comment on the Trayvon Martin case because it is under both state and federal investigations, theGrio also learned.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb