A South Florida man who was handcuffed and allegedly kicked in the head in an Aventura Bank of America in a case of mistaken identity was awarded $3.3 million in damages by a Miami-Dade jury.
Rodolfo Valladares, 50, walked out of court last week with the verdict after a jury found the bank negligent in the July 3, 2008 incident.
Valladares had walked into the bank to cash a $100 check when the teller mistook him for a robbery suspect who had been robbing banks in the area.
The bank had distributed a photo and description of the suspect, a Hispanic man who wore a Miami Heat hat during the robberies, and when Valladares walked in wearing a Heat hat, the teller hit a silent alarm.
“As soon as he walked in, the teller hit the panic button before she hit even said word one to him,” his attorney, Russell Adler, told NBC Miami. “And when he came up to her, he handed her his check and a driver’s license and even invited her to a Fourth of July barbecue the next day. And even though at that point everybody knew that he was not a bank robber, they never called off the police, or even notified the police.”
Aventura and Miami-Dade Police responded and ordered everyone to the ground before taking Valladares into custody, despite the fact he never displayed a weapon or demanded money, according to his lawsuit.
Not to mention that Valladares looks nothing like the suspect, who was described as in his 60s and around 145 pounds. Valladares was 46 and weighed over 200 pounds at the time, according to The Miami Herald, which first reported the story, but the teller didn't have the photo of the suspect on hand.
"We are disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal," Bank of America spokeswoman Shirley Norton said in a statement.
Valladares' attorney claimed officers handcuffed him and kicked him in the head, and that he still suffers headaches, blurred vision and post-traumatic stress disorder from the encounter.
“Bank of America’s position was that any Hispanic male who happened to walk in the bank at that moment, who was wearing a Miami Heat hat, would be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it was OK for the teller to do what she did," Adler said.