Lawsuit filed against Miami Gardens over alleged police harassment

Convenience store owner claims false arrests, civil rights violations

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – A convenience store owner filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the city, alleging that police have been harassing his employees and customers.

Alex Saleh claimed video shows officers harassing one of his employees and doing an illegal search behind the counter of the store. He said in the last four years, officers stopped a clerk, Earl Sampson, more than 250 times, searched him more than 100 times, and arrested him more than 50 times.

"Whenever he want, he arrest him," said Saleh.

The lawsuit alleges the city and police department violated the civil rights of employees and customers. Nine plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are seeking monetary damages.

"Men between ages 15 and 30 are consistently harassed and abused with little or no cause," said Carlos J. Reyes, an attorney representing Saleh. "We believe it represents a sanctioned policy by the city of Miami Gardens... and police department. This discrimination needs to stop."

In one video, marijuana and a registered gun were found, but Saleh said it was after years of illegal searches and seizures.

"They found one bag of weed on him," said Saleh. "Probable cause was bad."

City Manager Cameron Benson issued a statement, saying in part: "We are deeply bothered by these allegations and are taking immediate actions to further investigate and address these claims."

Read: Miami Garden's statement