Speeding Miami cop stopped by Florida Highway Patrol offered plea deal

9:20 AM, Mar 13, 2012   |    comments
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FT. LAUDERDALE, FL  (CBS4) - The Miami cop who touched off an inter-departmental police feud after he was pulled over by a trooper for hitting up 10 120 mph as he sped to an off-duty job in his patrol car can avoid time in jail if he accepts a plea on a charge of reckless driving, according to an offer made in court Monday.

Trooper Donna Watts arrested Miami Officer Fausto Lopez early on the morning of October 11th.  Her dashboard camera recorded the Miami officer, in a marked police car, blowing past her and other traffic on the Florida Turnpike like it was standing still.

When she stopped him, the incident touched off a weeks-long squabble between departments and personal attacks against the character of the trooper.

"I don't know what agency it is. I'm on 91, almost to Sunrise. He's well over 120, and he's not stopping," said Trooper Watts. "All I can see is a white patrol car with blue or something like that. It would be Miami or DOT, and I'm sure it's not DOT."

When Watts finally pulled Lopez over, dispatch instructed her to take down the officer's name and contact information. Instead, Watts is seen on her dashboard camera approaching the cruiser with her gun drawn. Once Lopez exited the cruiser, Watts placed him in handcuffs.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union representing Miami officers, slammed the state trooper's behavior.

Lopez was arrested, and charged with reckless driving, with a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail. In court Monday, prosecutors made an offer: if Lopez agrees to plead guilty or no-contest to the charge, they would spare him from time in jail. However, he would still be left with a criminal record if a judge agreed to convict him.

The court could also agree to withhold adjudication, which is often done for first offenders.

If Lopez agrees, he could also face a $500 fine and be required to pay court costs of more than $3000.

Prosecutors gave Lopez a week to decide. If he declines the deal, they said they would add a second charge of reckless driving for speeding away from trooper Watts and set a trial date.

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