“If I had not been successful in reducing the crime rate, we know what people would’ve said,” Ms. Demings said recently during a television appearance. “‘First woman chief, oh my God, she can’t handle that job.’”
But her tenure also was marked by repeated allegations of police brutality.
The first major case to come across her desk in 2007 involved an officer who pushed a woman down the stairs at a club where he worked as a security guard. The officer claimed the woman spit on him and drunkenly fell. Prosecutors charged her with felony battery on a police officer, and she lost her job. (They later dropped the charges, but she did not get her job back, her lawyer said.)
In a rare instance of imposing discipline on an officer, investigators concluded his version was not accurate and removed two of his vacation days. But Ms. Demings returned one of the vacation days, citing a technical mistake in the process.
Perhaps the most scrutinized case she faced occurred in 2010, when Officer Travis LaMont, then 26, encountered 84-year-old Daniel Daley arguing with a tow-truck driver outside of a bar.
Mr. Daley urged Mr. LaMont to help, and he later acknowledged tapping the officer’s arm several times. The officer told him to stop, and when he did not, he performed what is known as a “dynamic takedown,” leaning into Mr. Daley with his hip and throwing him to the ground.
Mr. Daley landed on his head and broke his neck.
Ms. Demings defended Mr. LaMont, saying, “The officer performed the technique within department guidelines,” although she said she would review the guidelines.
That decision set off a protest outside Police Headquarters; one demonstrator held a sign with a photo of the veteran wearing a neck brace. “Threat neutralized,” it said, according to The Sentinel.