Photo: Footage shows Rodolfo Valladares on ground after being confused with a bank robber
A man mistakenly thought to be a bank robber has just been awarded $3.3 million by a Florida jury.
On July 8, 2008, Rodolfo Valladares entered an Aventura Bank of America to cash a $100 check. As he approached a teller however, the employee panicked and triggered a silent alarm which brought police to the bank and shoving Valladares to the ground.
The teller believed Valladares was a bank robber based on a memo and surveillance of a man who had recently been robbing banks in the area.
Before Valladares could be claim his innocence, his lawyer says his client was hand-cuffed, put on the ground, and kicked in the head by police, even as he cooperated.
For both the police and bank’s actions, Valladares was awarded $3.3 million by a Miami-Dade jury last week. The jury said that the bank was negligent in triggering the silent alarm, as well as for not cancelling it when employees realized a mistake had been made.
The teller who tripped the alarm, Meylin Garcia, admitted that she did not have the photo of the robber on hand when she saw Valladares and set off the alarm. She did however remember that the suspect was described as a Hispanic male wearing a Miami Heat cap.
Had she actually looked at the photo before setting of the alarm, she would have likely noticed the major differences between Valladares and the suspect. The robber was said to be a man in his 60s weighing about 145 pounds. Valladares was 46 at the time and weighed well over 200 pounds.
Adding to evidence that Valladares was clearly not the bank robber was the fact that he gave no inclination that he was about to rob the bank. He simply handed over his license and check and asked to cash it. Garcia however, kept him at her window, waiting for police to arrive.
After it was determined that Valladares was not the bank robbery suspect, police simply let him go.
Bank of America has said the teller and the bank acted appropriately and have said they are planning to appeal the $3.3 million verdict.