A FLORIDA man has been charged after he allegedly detained a black teen who was biking to basketball practice.
Luis Orlando Santos Santiago, 54, acted like a “vigilante” when he “racially profiled” and falsely detained the 18-year-old, prosectors said.
Santos was released on $2,000 bond on July 25, according to online jail records.
He could face up to five years in prison if convicted on felony third-degree false imprisonment charges.
In cellphone footage Santos shot, which as released by prosecutors, Santos pulled up alongside the teen in his car and asked, “You work here? You live here?”
But after the teen answered Santos’ questions, the situation quickly escalated on June 9, in Seffner, Florida.
Santos, a former theme park security guard, then said: “You’re not going anywhere.”
Stepping out of his vehicle, he said: “You’re being detained. You’re not going anywhere.”
Before the 30-second video stopped, the teenager said he was “sorry.”
Santos then called 911 to explain how he had seen the teen in the video “breaking into cars.”
The 54-year-old then said he though the teen, who was unidentified, had stolen a bike.
There was no evidence of either crime, prosecutors with the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office said.
According to a recording of the 911 call, Santos identified himself to the operator as an off-duty office.
Prosecutors said that because Santos had left his jobs as a security guard six months before the incident, his required security officer certifications were still valid, so he could not be accused of impersonating an officer.
State Attorney Andrew Warren said in a statement: “What happened that morning should upset everyone in our community. We have skilled police officers – we don’t need vigilantes confronting people on the street.
Warren added that Santos actions were concerning what “appears to be a case of racial profiling.”
‘NO LEGAL AUTHORITY’
Warren added: “There have been recent examples of confrontations like this across the country that have ended tragically. The fact that this didn’t end with a loss of life doesn’t make it any less of a crime. What Mr. Santos did is unacceptable and illegal – now he’ll face consequences for his actions.”
Prosectors told ABC News on Wednesday that the case is also not being classified as a hate crime.
Santos, prosectors said, had no legal authority to detain the 18-year-old.
According to jail records, Santos classified himself as a white Hispanic.
He listed his employment as a shop assistant in Tampa.
According to the criminal affidavit, Santos allegedly put his right hand over the pocket of his pants in a “manner that made the victim feel as if the defendant may have a weapon, even though none was seen.”
It took local sheriff’s deputies around eight minutes to arrive, according to reports, during which time the teen kept his hands in the air.
Comparisons have been made to the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who was a volunteer with a neighborhood watch group in Florida.
After a jury decided Zimmerman had acted in self defense, he was later acquitted.