Imagine being stopped and frisked 258 times in four years, searched more than 100 times, arrested and jailed 56 times all because you were doing your job? Welcome to Earl Sampson’s life.
Alex Saleh, Sampson’s boss and owner of 207 Quickstop, installed 16 cameras in his store to build his case against the Miami Gardens police. The only offense that Sampson has ever been found guilty of throughout all of his stop and frisk experiences was low-level marijuana possession.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Saleh said that after reviewing a year’s worth of videos, saw a pattern of racial profiling and stops.
One video, recorded on June 26, 2012, shows Sampson, clearly stocking coolers, being interrupted by MGPD Sgt. William Dunaske, who orders him to put his hands behind his back, and then handcuffs him, leads him out of the store and takes him to jail for trespassing.
More than once, Saleh has told police that Sampson is an employee and is not trespassing.
On that June arrest report, obtained by The Herald, police explained the trespass arrest, saying that Sampson was arrested for loitering outside the store when in fact the video, which has a date and time stamp, clearly shows him being handcuffed and arrested inside the store.
FDLE records show that Sampson was stopped at least once a week for the past four years, and sometimes several times a week and even as many as three times in one day. The stops are often conducted by the same police officers, who have arrested him time and time again.
“I never felt they had any probable cause,’’ Sampson said. “They hop out of the car and search me before they even ask me for my name.’’
Saleh theorizes that it’s an easy way for the department to make it seem like they are making a large number of arrests.
“They have specialized units to combat crime and they need to bring in the numbers to justify those units,’’ Saleh said.
Said Sampson: “We have people shooting, killing, robberies. This is really ridiculous that they spend so much time arresting people for trespassing.’’
Another employee, Ron Picart, was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm. The case was never filed by the state attorney because the officer, Dunaske, found the firearm under the store’s counter during an illegal search, which was video recorded.
Saleh is now going forward with a civil rights lawsuit, which claims that police routinely engage in racial profiling and illegal stops and searches.