Deputies involved in Orange County barber shop raids to stand trial

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Channel 9 has learned a new court ruling means deputies involved in raids at Orange County barber shops will stand trial.

A federal Court of Appeals ruled every officer involved in the SWAT-style raids in Pine Hills violated the barbers' civil rights.

Deputies are also accused of using excessive force and two of the three judges agreed that the deputies went too far.

Barring an appeal, the civil lawsuit against the deputies will go to trial.

The 44-page ruling describes the 2010 raid at Strictly Skillz barber shop as a "backdoor for undertaking a warrantless search."

Orange County deputies and state agents stormed in with guns drawn and without a warrant on a busy back-to-school weekend.

Barbers were handcuffed and customers were ordered to leave as deputies rifled through barbers' work stations, searching for unlicensed barbers and criminal activity.

"The court sends a clear message that these types of inspections that are really raids should not be done," said the victims' attorney, Natalie Jackson.

In the end, there was no criminal activity and no unlicensed barbers at Strictly Skillz.

A list provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows the raids targeted barber shops throughout the areas surrounding Doctor Phillips to Pine Hills and Ocoee.

The court determined the businesses serviced primarily black and Hispanic clientele, which disturbed one of the judges, according to audio obtained by Eyewitness News.

The judge writing the ruling also expressed frustration that the case mirrors two others in which the court already ruled "criminal raid executed under the guise of an administrative inspection is constitutionally unreasonable...We hope a third time will be the charm."

"It's very important to send a message to the community that this won't happen," said Jackson.

One of the cases the judge referred to also involved Orange County deputies.

Some state employees who participated in the raids were fired.

A Sheriff's Office investigation found no wrongdoing, and the two deputies in the civil case are still employed at the Sheriff's Office.

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