Cops across the state have been repeatedly accused of misusing Florida’s Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID), which logs motorists’ addresses, driver’s license photos, plate numbers, and other personal info. Sometimes they stalk ex-lovers. Other times, they just bother people they don’t like.
In 2011, State Trooper Donna Jane Watts pulled over City of Miami Police Officer Fausto Lopez for speeding at 120 mph on I-95. In response, 88 cops from 25 police departments illegally accessed her DAVID profile and then harassed her by allegedly sending pizzas to her home and even smearing human feces on her car, all because she refused to cut a fellow cop some slack for driving at a speed that could have easily killed someone.
Earlier this year, Lenny Pozner, the father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Noah Pozner, filed a federal lawsuit claiming that a Delray Beach cop illegally accessed Pozner’s DAVID profile. Pozner is the focal point of multiple false conspiracy theories from Sandy Hook “truthers” who claim the shooting did not occur. Pozner’s lawyer told New Times that it was “more likely than not” that the cop accessed his information because of the nonsense spread about Pozner online.
Now another Florida cop has been accused of abusing DAVID for petty, stupid purposes — but this case allegedly involves a tiger cub. Last Friday, Miami-Dade resident Karl Redlhammer filed a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade Police Department in federal court. He says that his ex-wife began dating an MDPD cop who then used DAVID to stalk and harass Redlhammer.
The Miami-Dade Police Department did not respond to an email from New Times seeking comment.
Redlhammer claims the cop, Anthony “Tony” Crapello, illegally accessed Redlhammer’s personal information at least 16 times between December 2014 and October 2015. He says Crapello also began showing up outside his home and idling in his MDPD cruiser.
“On several occasions in the past four years, Mr. Redlhammer observed Crapello driving past the south boundary of his house, which abuts S.W. [redacted] Street, and activating his police siren,” the suit says. “On one occasion during the past four years, Mr. Redlhammer observed Crapello parked in an MDPD police car on an adjoining street… in a position to surveil the front of Mr. Redlhammer’s residence.”
Apparently, Redlhammer at the time owned a tiger cub, which he says was legally permitted. Crapello confiscated the cell phone of the divorced couple’s 12-year-old daughter, copied some photos of the cub, and tried to get Redlhammer arrested for housing a tiger, the lawsuit claims. The alleged ploy did not work.
“Thereafter, Crapello forwarded those photos to another MDPD officer with a request that laws be enforced against Mr. Redlhammer for illegally possessing a tiger,” the suit says. “The State of Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission refused to do so, explaining that Mr. Redlhammer was properly permitted to have the baby tiger in his residence.”
The suit, unfortunately, does not explain why Redlhammer had a tiger cub or what he planned to do with it. But he is now suing Crapello for allegedly accessing his DAVID profile illegally, as well as for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Redlhammer also says MDPD failed to properly train and supervise Crapello.
“Crapello had extraordinary power and authority over Mr. Redlhammer to… increase the likelihood and severity of the infliction of severe emotional distress and other harm,” the suit reads.