A Florida convenience store owner is preparing to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against local police after collecting more than two dozen videos detailing what he describes as regular harassment by officers against both customers and his employees.
The Miami Herald reported that since installing cameras at his store in June 2012, 207 Quickstop owner Alex Saleh has amassed footage of Miami Gardens police arresting people for trespassing despite them having permission to be at the store, as well as conducting searches without a warrant and in at least one instance, reporting a trespassing arrest saying one of Saleh's employees was loitering outside the business when video of the arrest showed him being taken into custody while he was working inside.
The employee, Earl Sampson, has reportedly been put in jail 56 times, searched more than 100 times and questioned more than 250 times over the past four years, despite Saleh informing police on several occasions that he worked at the establishment. The arrests reportedly stopped after Saleh informed officers of his intentions of filing the civil suit.
"I never felt they had any probable cause," Sampson told the Herald. "They hop out of the car and search me before they even ask me for my name."
Saleh also told the Herald that in December 2012, six officers converged on him during a traffic stop, allegedly on the grounds that his tag light was out. One allegedly told Saleh, "I'm going to get you, motherf*cker," and his vehicle was towed out of the store parking lot the next day, despite the light working.
"Where is the police chief in all this?" American Civil Liberties Union Florida head Howard Simon was quoted as saying. "In a police department in a city this size, this kind of behavior could not escape his attention. Doesn't the City Commission know that they are exposing the city to either massive liability for civil rights violations? Either that, or they are going to wake up one day and find the U.S. Department of Justice has taken over its police department."
Police Chief Matthew Boyd told the Herald in a written statement that, "our department is fully committed to complying with the laws that govern us."
[Image: "Angry Police Officer With Nightstick" via Shutterstock]