A Florida man has been charged with illegally detaining a Black teenager who was simply on his way to basketball practice in a case that prosecutors are calling racial profiling.
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warrent’s office said Luis Santos, 54, stopped the unidentified teen at 5:34 a.m. on June 9 in Seffner, Fla., while he was riding his bicycle and reportedly held him against his will, according to Tampa station WFLA.
Santos, according to officials, tried to act as though he had the legal authority to detain the boy and even perpetrated an arrest.
“The evidence shows the victim had not committed any crime and Santos made misleading statements to law enforcement about what he had witnessed,” Warren’s office said to WFLA. “The young man felt threatened and was not free to leave, while Santos acted as though he had the legal authority of a law enforcement officer, including compelling the victim to put his hands in the air until sheriff’s deputies arrived.”
Santos was arrested Saturday (July 25) and charged with false imprisonment, WFLA reported.
In a cell phone video, Santos is seen pulling up to the boy and telling him “you’re not going anywhere.” He then begins to fire questions at him about why he’s on his bicycle so early in the morning.
“You’re being detained,” Santos says to the teen. He later tells a 911 operator, “I have somebody breaking into cars. We have it on video.”
“You stay right where you at!” he yells.
But Warren’s office said the teen was never accused of any crimes.
“What happened that morning should upset everyone in our community,” Warren said in a statement. “We have skilled police officers. We don’t need vigilantes confronting people on the street.
“The victim was visibly shaken and hyperventilating when deputies arrived, with his hands still over his head,” Warren’ continued. “He reasonably believed his life may be in jeopardy if he tried to leave or even move. Santos had no lawful authority to restrain a person in a public place and his own recorded words establish that he was restraining the victim, by threat, against his will.”
After the incident, the teen’s bicycle was hooked to a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy’s patrol vehicle and he was driven to basketball practice.
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