A Miami Gardens convenience store owner says his employees and customers are being targeted by police for aggressive questioning and petty arrests which he's been documenting for a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Alex Saleh, the owner of the 207 Quickstop in 207th Street is set to file the lawsuit that claims the Miami Gardens Police Department is conducting illegal stops and searches as well as racial profiling at his store, the Miami Herald reported Thursday.
Miami Gardens police have arrested one employee, Earl Sampson, dozens of times. Sampson has been stopped and questioned by police 258 times in four years, and has been searched more than 100 times and jailed 56 times, the Herald reported.
Nearly every citation or arrest has happened at the store and many of them have been for trespassing, despite the fact that Sampson is an employee of Saleh.
Saleh, 36, claims police treat his employees and customers like criminals and use racial slurs to refer to them.
While there has been a lot of violent crime in Miami Gardens recently, Saleh questions the high police presence outside his store.
"Absolutely, I'm agreed, theres a high violent crime in Miami Gardens, but that don't give the right to police officers to violate anybody's rights," Saleh said.
He said he is usually "pro-police," but these officers take things too far.
"This is not police work, this is police abuse," he said.
Miami Gardens Police declined to comment, but Chief Matthey Boyd sent NBC 6 a statement.
“Rest assured that our department is fully committed to complying with the laws that govern us," Boyd said in the statement, adding that the department is committed to "exceeding the expectations of those that rely on us, and providing the best possible service to the residents of this great City."
Saleh, who has owned the store for 17 years, said he installed cameras at his store in June 2012 to capture some of the activities of the officers, and the recordings were part of an internal affairs complaint he filed last year.
He claims the officers became more aggressive after he filed the complaint, including an incident where a police squadron marched into the store and stood shoulder-to-shoulder for 10 minutes, and another when he was followed and pulled over and given citations for a bad license plate light, tinted windows and bald tires.
But since Saleh served notice that he is going to sue the city, police presence at the store has decreased and Sampson hasn’t been arrested.
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