Florida Sheriff Who Threatened Arrests at Hurricane Irma Shelters is Sued

A Florida sheriff who threatened to arrest people with outstanding warrants if they sought public shelter while Hurricane Irma battered Florida is being sued.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a man filed a lawsuit against Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd over claims he was denied entry to a shelter unless he underwent a background check.

Attorney Cynthia Conlin said the lawsuit, filed by Andres Borreno of Virginia, was submitted electronically Sunday but hadn’t been processed by the 10th Judicial Circut Court. Borreno claims Polk County deputies required him to submit to a criminal background check before he was able to enter a shelter Saturday. The suit doesn’t say if Borreno had an outstanding warrant.

“The officer … also never told Borreno that he was suspected of any crime or illegal act at that time,” the suit states. “Criminal suspicion is not raised by trying to enter an emergency shelter to save one’s life and the life of family members.”

Judd called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said he would not change his policy.

“They filed that lawsuit for free press and it’s obviously frivolous. I have a nationwide profile and they see it as an opportunity for nationwide press.”

Judd said Borreno wasn’t treated differently than others seeking shelter. He was offered shelter at the jail and was offered a ride. Judd said he didn’t know if Borreno went to the shelter.

“We check everyone who comes to a shelter to ensure they aren’t a sexual predator or a child sexual offender,” he said. “We are absolutely not going to let a sexual predator or a child sexual offender sleep next to a child in a storm shelter.”

Judd said Sunday 43 sex offenders in Polk County were being sheltered in an area of the jail that is not behind bars, and they are not in custody.