A Florida sheriff who threatened to jail fugitives with warrants if they sought shelter during Hurricane Irma has been sued by a man who claims he was denied entry to a shelter.
The Orlando Sentinel reports the lawsuit filed Sunday by Nexus Services, an organization that provides legal help to immigrants, claims Andres Borreno was denied entry to a shelter in Polk County after sheriff’s deputies told him he would have to submit to a background check before entering a shelter.
“The officer … also never told Borreno that he was suspected of any crime or illegal act at that time,” the lawsuit says, according to the Sentinel. “Criminal suspicion is not raised by trying to enter an emergency shelter to save one’s life and the life of family members.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the lawsuit was “frivolous” and claimed the policy was put in place to prevent sex offenders from being allowed into shelters.
“We check everyone who comes to a shelter to ensure they aren't a sexual predator or a child sexual offender,” Judd told the Sentinel. “We are absolutely not going to let a sexual predator or a child sexual offender sleep next to a child in a storm shelter.”
But the lawsuit against Judd claims that Florida driver’s licenses clearly indicate if someone is a sex offender, and accuses Judd of implementing a discriminatory policy that violates Fourth Amendment rights.
Judd made headlines last week for his tweeted threat to jail fugitives amid the hurricane.
“If you go to a shelter for #Irma and you have a warrant, we'll gladly escort you to the safe and secure shelter called the Polk County Jail,” Judd tweeted.
If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs will be at every shelter, checking IDs. Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed— Polk County Sheriff (@PolkCoSheriff) September 6, 2017
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida ripped Judd’s threat in a statement, accusing him of “exploiting a natural disaster and endangering lives.”
“With a storm of Irma’s size and ferocity bearing down on the people of our state, Sheriff Judd should be working to prepare his community, not burnishing his Joe Arpaio-style ‘tough cop’ credentials with a series of irresponsible tweets,” the statement said.