Former theme park security guard claimed to be off-duty officer, illegally detained Black student: records

A 54-year-old Seffner man faces a 3rd-degree felony false imprisonment charge after allegedly holding a Black 18-year-old student against his will under a false pretense of having witnessed the student committing crimes.

Records show former theme park security guard Luis Orlando Santos Santiago, aka Lewis Santos, stopped the young man who was riding his bike to basketball practice just after 5:30 a.m. June 9.

The Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office said Santos told the victim, “You’re not going anywhere. You’re being detained” and threatened the victim by saying "I'm an off-duty officer" and holding his hand near his pocket as if he had a gun.

While calling 911 to report having witnessed a crime, Santos allegedly made the victim hold his hands above his head. Responding deputies said the victim's hands were still above his head and he was "visibly shaken and hyperventilating" when they arrived.

Warren said the victim "reasonably believed his life may be in jeopardy if he tried to leave or even move."

According to warren, Santos had no authority to detain the victim and also lied to law enforcement about having witnessed any crimes.

Santos has been charged with false imprisonment, which can carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The state attorney's office said Santos is not being charged with false personation because he still holds valid security officer certifications from his time as a theme park security guard, however, Santos had no lawful authority to restrain a person in a public place and his own recorded words establish that he was restraining the victim, by threat, against his will.

“I want to commend the sheriff’s deputies who responded to the scene. They calmed the situation down and comforted the victim. Then they took this vigilante to task for what he’d done and referred the case to our office for potential charges,” State Attorney Warren said.