An American-born citizen who claims he was unlawfully detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and threatened with deportation to Jamaica is now suing a local sheriff’s office that allegedly held him in custody based on a request from the agency. 

NBC News reported on Wednesday that the man, Peter Sean Brown, who was born in Philadelphia, filed a federal lawsuit against the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Florida on Monday after claiming authorities ignored his attempts to prove his identity and threatened to have him flagged him for deportation.

Brown described the experience in a video released by the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday.

“I felt totally, totally powerless,” Brown said in the video.


“I went from angry, because nobody was listening to me, to a really frightful moment because I was literally told at one moment that I was to sign this paper, that they were tired of listening to me lying, and that I had three days and I was being sent back to Jamaica,” he continued. 

According to the lawsuit obtained by NBC News, Brown had turned himself in to authorities for a federal probation violation after he tested positive for marijuana in April. He had reportedly been placed on probation following an arrest on the charge of resisting an officer with violence in 2016.

While Brown was in custody in the county sheriff’s office back in April, the lawsuit claims he was told that ICE had put a hold on his release and that he had been flagged for deportation to Jamaica — a place he claims in the lawsuit that he visited just once during a cruise several years ago.

The suit also reportedly claims that the manager of the restaurant where Brown worked, Brooke Lynch, also claimed to have found Brown’s name in an online inmate locater and also found he had an ICE detainer request against him.

"Despite his repeated protests to multiple jail officers, his offer to produce proof, and the jail’s own records, the sheriff’s office held Mr. Brown so that ICE could deport him to Jamaica — a country where he has never lived and knows no one," the suit seen by NBC News reads. 

Brown also alleges in the suit that he was mocked by officers while in custody, who he claims told him "‘everything’s gonna be alright’ in a Jamaican accent."

After spending three weeks in jail back in April, the lawsuit reportedly states that Brown was transferred to the Krome immigration detention center in Miami. 

Brown reportedly filed numerous complaints against Sheriff Rick Ramsay saying he had been falsely accused.

"I have been wrongly accused and threatened with deportation from ICE," Brown reportedly wrote in one complaint. "I am and have always been a citizen of the United States."

It wasn’t until after Brown had been turned over to ICE that he was determined to be a U.S. citizen, the suit reportedly claims.

"After confirming that Mr. Brown was a U.S. citizen, ICE hastily arranged for his release from Krome," the suit reportedly states. "Before he left, they confiscated all the documents they had given him regarding his impending deportation."

Ramsay responded to the suit in a statement to NBC News on Tuesday, saying that "local law enforcement throughout this country has been caught in the middle of a political argument regarding immigration." 

"Although I can’t respond as much as I would like on this case given the pending litigation, I always strive for transparency with the public, which all of us here at the sheriff’s office serve," he continued. "This was an unfortunate case of mistaken identity by ICE regarding a subject who was initially in state custody for violating probation for a felony crime of violence against a police officer."

The sheriff went on to say that his office had been notified by ICE that Brown had a final order of deportation, as his identity had allegedly been confirmed from "biometrics.”

"It is important to also note that when an inmate is held under an ICE matter, I, as sheriff, do not have the legal authority to release that person," he continued. "Though the sheriff’s office does not investigate immigration matters and while I cannot release detainees under ICE custody, I immediately took action when notified of this matter months ago."

He claims he ordered the office's detention deputies to "immediately notify ICE of a detainee’s claims of citizenship and to follow up with those claims." 

The sheriff’s office also told NBC News that it informed Brown about the ICE detainer "approximately three weeks prior to his transfer to a federal detention center in Miami in an effort to give Mr. Brown and his attorney time to resolve the matter." 

"Mr. Brown was detained for about 12 hours total on the ICE matter in the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island, before he was picked up by ICE," the statement added.

Lawyers representing Brown said his experience caused him to grow "severely depressed" and added that he lost his job. Brown is reportedly seeking monetary damages and attorney costs from the suit. 

"It’s shocking and not right that somebody can lose their human rights and have all dignity stripped away simply because someone delivers a piece of paper or signs a form," Brown said in a statement to the news agency.