Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Who Arrested Speeding Miami Officer Files Lawsuit

Watts pulled over Lopez on Florida's Turnpike in Oct. 2011.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Florida Highway Patrol
    A Florida Highway Patrol trooper approaches Miami Police Officer Fausto Lopez during a traffic stop.

    The Florida Highway Patrol trooper who pulled over a speeding Miami Police officer last year filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that several agencies illegally accessed her personal information to intimidate her, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

    On Friday, Trooper Donna “Jane” Watts and lawyer Mirta Desir filed the 69-page lawsuit, which seeks more than $1 million in damages. It alleges that 88 officers from 25 jurisdictions, including her own, violated her privacy by illegally obtaining her personal information more than 200 times.

    Raw Video: Trooper Arrests Cop

    [MI] RAW VIDEO: FHP Trooper Arrests Miami Police Officer
    Officer Fausto Lopez is taken into custody at gunpoint by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper for allegedly speeding and driving recklessly. (Published Monday, Oct 31, 2011)

    Watts said the Oct. 11 incident, when she pulled over Miami officer Fausto Lopez for speeding on Florida’s Turnpike, has caused backlash. She was captured on camera with her gun drawn as she approached Fausto, who she said she followed for seven minutes while he drove 120 mph.

    The lawsuit alleges that following the traffic stop, actions of other officers created a “life-threatening” situation for Watts. She said she now fears for her life, has become a “hermit,” and is even moving.

    She continued to say she receives random phone calls -- some threatening -- and that vehicles stop in front of her driveway, according to the suit.

    The privacy violations have caused her to start "to experience physical symptoms to include dry heaves and nausea when performing basic activities such as opening her mailbox, starting her ignition, or when being followed by a law enforcement vehicle for no apparent reason," the lawsuit said.

    Watts also opens her mailbox from the side in fear that something is in it, the newspaper reported.

    "This is an invasion of privacy," her attorney was quoted as saying. "Law enforcement does have access to information most residents don't and with that level of access there should come a certain amount of care. ... This is something that is not supposed to be done."

    Officers looked up her home address, picture, social security number, and date of birth in a database available to police officers, according to the suit.

    Watts said agencies including the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Lauderhill Police, and Hollywood Police didn’t properly train officers who used her information for intimidation purposes.

    Margate settled for $10,000 after the city said two officers accessed her information.

    "The law had indeed been broken," Margate city attorney Gene Steinfeld was quoted as saying on Monday.

    Watts’ supervisors "do not believe that it would ever be safe for her to return to road patrol," and she fears police backup would not be provided if she was in an emergency, according to the suit.

    None of the agencies named could comment to the Sentinel Monday. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles was also named in the suit, according to the newspaper.

    Lopez, who traveled faster than 100 mph reguraly, has since been fired.

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