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:
Keystone Kops, anyone? What a waste of taxpayers’ money. And the police wonder why no one respects them anymore. It’s flagrant abuse of authority like this that leads to apathy in the public.
The example the parents set for the kids is amazing. Then trying to use the race card as a defense? That is ridiculous. Everyone’s bloodline is so filthy at this point that race really doesn’t matter. If a cop used excessive force it wasn’t because they were Haitian but because they were so ignorant and oblivious to the fact they did something wrong.
I live in Wellington and work at the mall. I didn’t see this incident but my sister did and she told me that the family were acting like animals. The deputies were only doing what the mall requested them to do, remove this guy who was given a notice of trespassing a few months ago. The mall was in their right and so were the police. If the Leger family think it’s OK for their adult son to show off his ***crack at a public mall and that it’s a “bad” law that protects the rest of us from having to look at it then they should hire a lawyer and take it to court; not act like a bunch of animals like I was told they were doing. I hope that the judge teaches them all what they need to learn.
I was there and witnessed this whole thing and the family behavior at the mall that night was terrible. I hope that the judge throws the book at all of them and do the job that the parents obviously haven’t done over the past 20 years.