Hey, finding parking spaces can be hard. Who disputes that? But an elected official in Florida is disputing a new allegation. She’s been arrested for using a dead woman’s placard to park in handicapped spots at City Hall. Davenport Mayor Teresa Darlene Bradley, 60, was arrested Tuesday, and booked on charges of felony use/possession of the ID of a deceased person, felony possession of an altered counterfeit decal, and misdemeanor unlawful use of handicapped placard. Polk County jail records obtained by Law&Crime show that she posted $2,250 of bail on Wednesday. County records showed that she is scheduled for an arraignment next January 9.
Video posted to YouTube Wednesday by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shows an individual parking a sedan in a handicapped spot, and walking into a building with a wheeled briefcase. Investigators identified her as Bradley, according to records obtained by The Tampa Bay Times. Polk County deputies said they heard she was parking in a handicapped spot despite lacking a disability. She put a placard on the rear-view mirror of her car, deputies said. This belonged to a woman who passed away in August 2012, they said. Bradley allegedly changed the expiration date from Oct. 30, 2013 to October 2018. Deputies also booked her for having another another person’s placard. That individual died in 2015.
Bradley’s lawyer said the felony charges are unfair.
“It is my understanding that Mayor Bradley was of the erroneous belief that the placards were associated with her husband’s visual disability and did not have any information that the placards belonged to someone other than her husband,” attorney Rafael Echemendia told Law&Crime in a statement. “She was previously the victim of a violent carjacking and continues to feel extremely unsafe after dark and acknowledges that she parks as close to the door as possible at night for safety concerns.”
He argued that the charges are being handled this way because of politics. As he put it, Bradley “upset the political apple cart” when she ran for office.
“This should have been a civil citation or a misdemeanor at best, but powerful interests are taking full political advantage of a decision my client made due to her legitimate concerns for her safety,” he said.
Echemendia didn’t provide specific examples about what he called “powerful interests.” Law&Crime reached out for a follow up statement.
Update – Dec. 7, 4:39 p.m.: Attorney Rafael Echemendia responded to the request for comment Law&Crime sent to Bradley. The article has been updated to reflect the information in his statement.
[Mugshot via Polk County]