MIAMI – A man filed a lawsuit against a Publix supermarket after he says he was strip-searched because a guard thought he was shoplifting, WSVN-Ch. 7 reports.
On Jan. 26, Nathaniel Cruz went to the Publix on 57th Avenue and Northwest Seventh Street for tuna and some crackers. A store security guard thought he was shoplifting some eye drops, so he took him to a back room, Cruz told WSVN.
“The gentleman said take everything in your pocket out, and I put the bag on the floor first, and then I started taking my cell phone, my wallet, my keys,” Cruz said.
Cruz said he was forced to take off his clothes. He says the search turned up nothing.
Cruz said he received an apology and the eye drops were eventually found in an aisle.
Cruz has hired an attorney and on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Publix.
Publix officials said they cannot comment because they have not seen the lawsuit.
Apprehension of shoplifters is a pet peeve of mine, if you have read some of my other posts (https://flliberty.wordpress.com/2009/07/30/cop-arrested-for-victimless-crime/) you will understand why. Publix needs to pay this man a lot of money. Florida law gives security guards in the stores the right to detain a suspect of shoplifting until law enforcement arrives. The key here is they have to wait for the Leo. In store guards can also apprehend suspects of shoplifting by chasing them, tackling them and putting handcuffs on the suspect.
However, the “theft” better be on the video surveillance because without the evidence of this deliberate movement, the in store security doesn’t have probable cause to detain the shopper. And just because the checkpoint sensormatic beeps, this is not probable cause because the damn things mal-function so often.
Under no circumstances do they have the right to strip search a suspect. Even Leos cannot strip search a suspect of a misdemeanor, traffic violation or municipal ordinance. Publix is going to end up paying thousands of dollars over a $4.90 bottle of eye drops. Is this stupid or what? Dear Mr. Publix, ever heard of the 4th Amendment?