Sunday, December 30, 2007

Family Seiged At Shopping Mall for Wearing Pants Too Low

Looks like a scene out of a gay porn flick

WELLINGTON — Six members of a family were arrested at The Mall at Wellington Green in an incident that began benignly enough over a pair of droopy jeans but ended like a chaotic scene out of the Cops TV show.

An estimated 20 deputies, two canine units and a police helicopter swarmed the area surrounding the mall's food court, shutting down roads, all to arrest a 52-year-old man, his 50-year-old wife and four other relatives, ages 16 to 20, Thursday evening.

"It's a family affair. They get to spend the holiday in jail together," Palm Beach County sheriff's Lt. Jay Hart said.

For the Leger family, which has lived in Wellington since 1992, though, this is no laughing matter. They say sheriff's deputies overreacted with not just the force of their numbers but also with sheer force.

Their arrests, along with the physical and verbal abuse family members say they endured, were punishment for both questioning the arrest of one of their sons and for leveling racism charges on the deputies, they contend.

That isn't so, deputies say. The family attempted to stop deputies from arresting a relative, which led to the situation spiraling out of control.

The fracas began around 7 p.m. Thursday when deputies arrested Frantz Leger, the Legers' 20-year-old son. He had returned to the mall where he was banned for violating its "Rules of Common Courtesy" on or around August. The Florida State University sophomore business major was verboten for wearing his pants too low.

"I know I'm not a criminal just because my pants are too low below your expectations," Frantz Leger said from his Wiltshire Village home Saturday.

Unknowingly or not, though, his return to the mall was a violation of that trespass warning, deputies later charged.

"The mall doesn't put up with that tomfoolery bullcrap," Hart said. "His pants were down below his butt. No one goes to the mall and wants to see the crack of someone's butt."

What happened next differs greatly between deputies' and family members' versions.

Suffice it to say, the night ended with six family members spending time in jail:

The father, Joseph F. Leger, was charged with trespassing, resisting an officer with violence, assault with intent to commit a felony and assault on a law enforcement officer.

The mother, Marthe J. Leger, was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting an officer with violence and two counts of battery on an officer.

Their daughter, Samantha, 18, a Florida A&M University student, was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting an officer without violence, trespassing and simple assault on an officer.

Frantz Leger's cousin, Alain Oidge, 19, was charged with trespassing, resisting and officer without violence and disorderly conduct.

Another cousin, a 16-year-old juvenile faced a battery charge.

For most of them, it was their first time behind bars in Florida. Marthe Leger was arrested in 1994 on larceny and robbery charges; and Alain Oidge was arrested in October on charges of fraud, driving while his license was suspended and resisting an officer without violence.

The Legers say their Haitian heritage and treatment at the mall are not coincidental.

"We feel like we've been prejudiced," Marthe said. "They treat us like a second-class citizen."

Sheriff's Capt. Greg Richter, Wellington's senior law enforcement officer, countered: "The family got involved and tried to intervene and tried to resist the officers and that's why they were subsequently arrested. It had nothing to do with the color of their skin. It had to do with their actions."

The family was all out of jail Saturday. Some were released without a judge's requiring bonds, but Frantz Leger and his parents had to post bonds.

The Legers say they will contact an attorney this week and might seek reprimands against certain deputies.

"We hope we can get justice in the whole situation, and it not happen (again) in Wellington because it's a nice place to be," Marthe said.

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PalmBeachPost] via [Fark]

Take a lesson from my man right here ...

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