A former Florida security guard has been accused of detaining a Black teenager as he was biking to an early-morning basketball practice, and then calling the police on the boy to accuse him of breaking into cars in a suspected case of racial profiling.
Luis Santos Santiago, 54, was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail over the weekend on a charge of false imprisonment stemming from his run-in with the 18-year-old boy that took place in early June in Seffner.
The Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office on Wednesday released video purportedly showing Santos, who is Hispanic, following the Black teen in his car before dawn, pestering him with questions and not letting the boy leave.
‘You live here?’ Santos asks the boy on the bike while slowly driving alongside him.
‘Yes,’ he replies.
‘Where?’ Santos inquires.
‘I live right there,’ the teen says.
Not satisfied with his response, Santos demands that the boy give him his exact address, which he does.
‘You’re not going anywhere,’ Santos declares before exiting his vehicle. ‘You’re being detained.’
According to prosecutors, the 54-year-old put his hand over his right pants pocket, making it seem as if he had a gun, and ordered the boy to put his hands up.
Toward the end of the 30-second recording, the boy is heard telling Santos, ‘Sorry.’
Minutes later, Santos dials 911, falsely telling the dispatcher that he is an off-duty cop calling to report a crime.
‘Good morning, I have somebody breaking into cars,’ he tells the operator. ‘Um, we, we got it on video. And I got it right here in front of me.’
After asking for the address, the dispatcher inquires about the race of the suspect.
‘He’s a black guy,’ Santos replies.
The teen says something inaudible in the background, prompting Santos to tell him: ‘You stay right where you at, I’m telling you this… cause you can’t be breaking into people’s place. We got you on video so relax.’
Santos then accuses the teen of stealing the bicycle he was riding.
‘I got him with his hands up,’ he tells the 911 dispatcher, before adding, ‘I’m an off-duty officer.’
When the first deputy arrived on the scene eight minutes after the call, he found the teen to be in possession of no stolen property, and determined that the boy had not committed any crimes.
All the 18-year-old had on him was his backpack containing a basketball, a jump rope and a pair of gym shoes.
According to a statement from the state attorney’s office, the victim was visibly shaking and hyperventilating, and still had his hands in the air.
‘He reasonably believed his life may be in jeopardy if he tried to leave or even move,’ stated the prosecuting agency. ‘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.’
In order to put the boy at ease and make sure he was not late for practice, one of the responding deputies hooked his bike to his patrol car and gave him a ride to the gym.
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Source: Daily Mail