A federal appeals court has ruled a 2010 “SWAT-like” raid on an Orlando-area barbershop over licensing concerns was illegal.
The raid was one of several deputies carried out against minority-owned barbershops and salons in 2010.
Working with Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), the Orange County deputy sheriffs claimed they suspected unlawful activity had taken place at Strictly Skillz barbershop.
Tuesday’s ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals condemned the officers actions.
“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 court wrote.
The justices said the deputies went too far in using a SWAT-like approach just to check whether barbers were licensed. In fact, inspectors from Florida’s the DBPR had inspected Strictly Skillz only two days prior to the raid and found nothing wrong.
Describing the raid as a “scene right out of a Hollywood movie,” the panel of judges wrote: “Unlike previous inspections of Strictly Skillz…the August 21  search was executed with a tremendous and disproportionate show of force, and no evidence exists that such force was justified.”
No illegal or unlicensed activity was found at the barbershop.
The Sheriff’s Office originally concluded deputies did nothing wrong. The DBPR has terminated several employees and settled out of court with barbers.