‘SWAT Raid’ On Florida Barbershop Officially Deemed Illegal … To Check Licenses

SWAT raids are usually not conducted on barbershops, but that’s what apparently happened in 2010. The Strictly Skillz Barbershop in Orlando, Florida, was given one such treatment … simply to check the barbers’ licenses.

Normally raids are conducted with a warrant if there is any suspicion of drugs or criminal activity involved. The courts described the incident as something only seen on the big screen.

“It was a scene right out of a Hollywood movie. On August 21, 2010, after more than a month of planning, teams from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office descended on multiple target locations. They blocked the entrances and exits to the parking lots so no one could leave and no one could enter. With some team members dressed in ballistic vests and masks, and with guns drawn, the deputies rushed into their target destinations, handcuffed the stunned occupants – and demanded to see their barbers’ licenses.”

The SWAT-style raid was declared unconstitutional.

“We first held nineteen years ago that conducting a run-of-the-mill administrative inspection as though it is a criminal raid, when no indication exists that safety will be threatened by the inspection, violates clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. … We reaffirmed that principle in 2007 when we held that other deputies of the very same Orange County Sheriff’s Office who participated in a similar warrantless criminal raid under the guise of executing an administrative inspection were not entitled to qualified immunity. … Today, we repeat that same message once again. We hope that the third time will be the charm.”

When the “SWAT raid” happened, it was only two days after a much less extreme inspection had been passed. No violations had been discovered, yet Florida Police seemed to feel it was necessary to check again with unnecessary force.

Eight to 10 officers arrived at once, ordering the customers out of the Florida barbershop. They handcuffed the owner, Brian Berry, and two barbers who rented chairs from him. After about an hour, everybody was released and Strictly Skillz Barbershop was allowed to operate once again.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the eleventh Circuit in Atlanta decreed that Corporal Keith Vidler and Deputy Travis Leslie do not deserve the qualified immunity they claimed to be acting under when conducting their second check. Vidler and Leslie had claimed that they had the right to conduct a second search, since many of the barbers working there had previously failed to cooperate with DBPR inspectors, and they “serviced primarily African-American and Hispanic clientele.”

Those “SWAT raids” have officially been declared criminal, so it seems it’s once again safe to get your hair cut in Orlando, Florida, without having the facility raided. Otherwise they need a warrant and more than just racial profiling.

[image via Bucket Reviews]