Second lawsuit filed in Orange County barber shop raids

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9's Karla Ray spoke with people who are at the center of a recently-filed lawsuit against the Orange County Sheriff's Office.
 
It's now the second suit filed over a series of barber shop and beauty shop raids deputies conducted four years ago.
 
A former owner of one of those shops told Ray that his life was ruined, even though he says he did nothing wrong.
 
The shop owner and employees listed in the lawsuit worked at a now-closed shop near Colonial Drive and Silver Star Road.
 
The owner said he rarely comes back to the shop because it's just too painful to see it closed after those raids.
 
"A shell, that's what it looks like. And with my funding that's what we ended up with," said Noel Lawrence.
 
Lawrence said his beauty shop was successful until August 2010.   
 
"There were SWAT teams, there were masks, there were batons -- it was like a war zone pretty much. It was like a war zone," said Lawrence, describing the day his shop was raided.
 
His business was one of 45 raided by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Orange County Sheriff's Office. They did not have a warrant when they raided Lawrence's shop.
 
Investigators said they were looking for unlicensed barbers and criminal activity.
           
"(A) license check with such heavy artillery. I don't believe it," said Lawrence.
 
Shampoo tech Akeema Branch and her son were also in the salon on the day of the raid.
 
"My son at that time was 4 years old. He came outside screaming, 'Mommy, mommy,'" said Branch.
 
Branch said she was pulled from the business and walked over to another barbershop that was also raided. That shop has also closed.
 
"The only thing that kept going through my mind was, 'Oh my God, they're taking me to jail for no reason,'" said Branch.
 
Neither Lawrence nor Branch were cited or charged.
 
Now they have filed a federal lawsuit against the sheriff's office and DBPR. They said a case of profiling resulted in their businesses shutting down.
 
"I hope we get justice. I hope we get justice. My life is ruined," said Lawrence. 
 
Channel 9 reported in recent weeks that a judge ruled there is enough evidence for the first federal lawsuit to move forward with a trial. That decision is being appealed.
 
The sheriff's office would not comment on the story, saying they do not comment on pending litigation.
 
The lawsuit also asks for an injunction that would require sheriff's deputies to wear body cameras.