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WELLINGTON, Fla. – What began as a dispute over a young man wearing droopy pants at a South Florida mall led to a wild scuffle, a massive police response and six members of an entire family being arrested.
The incident took place Thursday evening as Joseph Leger, 52, took his wife and four other family members shopping at the Mall at Wellington Green.
Apparently Leger’s 20-year-old son, Frantz, had been banned from the property previously for wearing his pants too low, violating the mall’s “Rules of Common Courtesy.”
“I know I’m not a criminal just because my pants are too low below your expectations,” Frantz Leger told the Palm Beach Post.
Lt. Jay Hart of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office indicated, “The mall doesn’t put up with that tomfoolery bullcr–. His pants were down below his butt. No one goes to the mall and wants to see the crack of someone’s butt.”
The versions of what happened differ between the Legers and law enforcement, but some 20 deputies, 2 K-9 police dogs and a helicopter became involved in settling the fracas, as nearby roads were shut down for a time.
Charges against the family members include trespassing, resisting an officer with violence, assault with intent to commit a felony and assault on a law enforcement officer.
The Legers, who are of Haitian heritage, feel their race played a factor.
“We feel like we’ve been prejudiced,” Joseph’s wife, Marthe, said. “They treat us like a second-class citizen.”
Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Richter, Wellington’s senior law enforcement officer, responded to that allegation, saying, “The family got involved and tried to intervene and tried to resist the officers and that’s why they were subsequently arrested. It had nothing to do with the color of their skin. It had to do with their actions.”
While all of the family is out of jail now and considering legal action, the incident has become a hot topic on messageboards.
Some of the comments include:
In another controversial mall incident on Christmas Eve, a man and his wife were stunned by a police Taser gun when authorities in Madison, Wis., responded to a call about someone carrying a gun inside the mall.
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