BRANDON, FL. – A lawsuit alleging the false arrest and imprisonment of a U.S. military veteran over an erroneous charge of grand theft shoplifting depicts the complicated process of determining who is a thief and who isn’t.
On July 30, 2019, Lance Roland Faison went to Best Buy, at 116 Regency Boulevard in Brandon, with his baby and a diaper bag.
According to surveillance video, Faison was shopping in the ‘smart home’ section of the store and placed several items into his shopping cart. Faison continued down the aisle, then decided to return to the ‘smart home’ section and put the packages back on the shelf.
When Faison left the store, no alarms went off.
But Best Buy’s head of asset protection contacted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office, which sent an officer to the store to review the surveillance video. The officer indicated he believed that Faison took almost $335.00 of merchandise by removing the stolen items from their packaging and then returning the empty boxes to the shelves.
A loss prevention check had noted there were empty boxes in the smart home section, which prompted a review of surveillance video to attempt to determine what happened to the missing goods. However, no cameras showed Faison taking the goods out of the boxes because his movements and activity were not fully captured.
Despite the sheriff’s investigative report claims, state prosecutors saw things differently and eventually dropped the charges against Faison for “insufficient evidence,” according to a felony disposition report.
During the store investigation, it was discovered that Faison was under felony probation until January 2025.
On October 16, 2012, The Ledger reported that Faison, along with another of two accomplices, was arrested for “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, kidnapping and impersonating law enforcement officers.” The threesome attempted to kidnap a teen boy who lived in Auburndale and approached the child with guns drawn. Faison was sentenced to two years in prison in April 2013 but was also placed on felony probation for “grand theft firearm” and “false imprisonment.”
Now, Faison’s lawsuit seeks significant damages from Best Buy for its “malicious” behavior that has caused him humiliation and hardship.
Grayson Kamm, Chief Communications Officer with the State Attorney’s Office, explained, “I am not able to comment on the specifics of this case, but in general, it is important to know that different standards guide our agencies. Law enforcement makes an arrest based on probable cause, which is a reasonable belief that a crime occurred based on the evidence. That case is referred to the State Attorney’s Office, which has to meet a considerably higher standard to prosecute and convict someone – proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The system is designed this way, with increasing standards at each step.”
Corporations such as Best Buy are entitled to protect their assets. But they depend upon police or the sheriff’s office to determine probable cause of a crime. A retail store’s ability to investigate potential theft is less comprehensive than that of law enforcement and state prosecutors. For that reason, they are not allowed to arrest anyone.
Faison’s attorney is Gil Sanchez of Tampa. Mr. Sanchez declined to comment. A trial by jury is demanded.