Staffer for Fort Lauderdale mayoral candidate accused of vandalizing signs

Elijah Manley ran from officers when questioned, police say

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – An 18-year-old staffer for Fort Lauderdale mayoral candidate Dean Trantalis has been arrested, accused of damaging rival campaign signs and running from a police officer, officials said.

Elijah Manley, who is also running for a seat on the Broward County school board, faces a charge of resisting an officer without violence. He was released on $100 bond Saturday.

According to the arrest report, neighbors called police to complain about a man matching Manley's description vandalizing campaign signs about 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the 400 and 500 blocks of Northwest 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. 

A short time later, a uniformed officer found Manley walking nearby in 1500 block of Northwest Sixth Street, the report said. The officer repeatedly instructed Manley to stop, but the man ran away, temporarily eluding police, the report said. 

Another officer pulled Manley over during a traffic stop Friday and arrested him.

Trantalis, who appeared Sunday on "This Week in South Florida," said that Manley told him that he was canvassing for votes in the neighborhood when the officer stopped him. Manley told Trantalis he fled because he was scared. Trantalis suggested it may be a case of mistaken identity. 

Trantalis, a city commissioner, said he does not condone people damaging campaign signs, saying he has been victim of vandals himself.

Trantalis along with former city Commissioner Charlotte Rodstrom and city Commissioner Bruce Roberts are all vying to become Fort Lauderdale's next mayor. Voters go to the polls Tuesday.

Manley directed questions to his lawyer, George Odom, but he released a statement on Twitter about the arrest. 

"I am looking forward to my day in court so that justice is served," Manley said. "The facts will be on my side."