Luis Santos, a 54-year-old Florida resident, has been arrested and charged with false imprisonment after he recorded himself illegally detaining a young man and “acted as though he had the legal authority of a law enforcement officer,” according to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office.
“The evidence shows the victim had not committed any crime and Santos made misleading statements to law enforcement about what he had witnessed,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s office said in a Tuesday email to Tampa, Florida, outlet 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.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Santos can be heard saying as he gets out of his vehicle. “You’re being detained. You’re not going anywhere.”
“I’m sorry?” the teen asks, presumably confused.
“You’re sorry?” Santos responds while approaching the teen. The video ends shortly thereafter.
“You stay. You stay right where you at,” the 54-year-old commands in the released audio. “You stay right where you at.”
“Good morning, I have somebody breaking into cars. Uh, we got it on video, and I got it right here in front of me,” Santos claims to the 911 operator.
The unidentified teen is overheard attempting to explain the situation but is quickly ordered to be quiet.
He then proceeds to tell the 911 operator that he believes the teen stole the bike he is riding.
“I got him with his hands up. I’m a – I’m a off-duty officer,” the 54-year-old claims.
An officer arrived at 5:42 a.m. local time, eight minutes after the call was made.
“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.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office mugshot of 54-year-old Luis Santos, who was arrested and charged with false imprisonment (July 25, 2020).
The teen, who remains anonymous by his own request, was not charged during the incident and was driven to practice by a deputy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). WFLA reported that the young man was interviewed by prosecutors on July 20 and has also retained a lawyer.
Santos was arrested on Saturday and charged with false imprisonment, which, in Florida, carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000. He was released on a $2,000 bond the same day, according to the HCSO booking website.