Crazy Like a Henn

Swap Shop owner Preston Henn is having a difficult time convincing others he's still got a grip

According to Bautista one of the first calls Henn made was to Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish. When she didn't answer, Henn began screaming into her voice mail that deputies were on his property and that she should call him right back. Parrish was formerly vice president of operations at the Swap Shop. After a public falling out, however, the two have remained estranged.

After the fruitless call to Parrish, Henn pleaded with Bautista to send the other deputies away. But when Bautista made it clear that he couldn't do that, Henn turned and ran.

Henn made a getaway in one of his golf carts. BSO deputies commandeered another golf cart and followed him. The resulting low-speed chase through Swap Shop stalls ended at a stairway below the main office. There, Henn sprinted up the stairs and barricaded himself in his inner sanctum, a large and cluttered office with windows overlooking the Swap Shop's north lot.

The circus in happier times
The circus in happier times

The most important feature of this office is a large bank of television screens. The screens are connected to hundreds of video cameras placed throughout the Swap Shop. They're also connected to a server that allows Henn to monitor his flea market from anywhere in the world via the Internet.

"He is always watching," says one employee who has an office near Henn's. "No matter where he is in the world, he will always call in and ask about his Swap Shop."

On this day, he must have been watching those screens with a growing sense of unease. Just outside his door, half-a-dozen BSO deputies and detectives were gathering, along with his wife, Betty; his granddaughter Daphne; and his son Jeff.

According to the BSO depositions, Henn's family tried to coax him out. These efforts where met with shouting and cursing. Henn would not be moved.

About 45 minutes later, however, Henn left his office. His attorneys suggested in depositions that Henn had waited until local media had arrived, then finally came down to make some sort of public statement.

Security-camera images, which Henn released to the media, show him taking long, purposeful strides down the narrow hallway outside his office, not looking particularly threatening. But the BSO officers who were present didn't see it that way.

"He barges out," Bautista recalled. "He looked like a raging pit bull coming out of the cage ready for a fight. There was no stopping him. There was nothing you could do to stop him... I thought he was just going to knock [Jarboe] down."

Although the footage is unclear, the officers claim that Henn appeared to lunge at Jarboe, so Deputy Christopher Labarbera Tasered Henn, sending 50,000 volts of electricity into him.

Henn screamed in agony and fell to the floor.

Deputies transported Henn to a BSO squad car, where he kicked a window out of its frame. Henn was taken to a police station and then to the psychiatric ward at Plantation General for a mandatory — and involuntary — 72-hour evaluation. Those 72 hours turned into ten days. He would later be charged with two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer — one for attacking Jarboe in his car and one just before he was Tasered outside the Swap Shop office — a misdemeanor battery charge against Leibovitch, and one count of criminal mischief for his run-in with the patrol car window.

Henn refused to talk about the specifics of the incident with Leibovitch except to say that "it's all gonna come out during the case." Leibovitch, meanwhile, has filed an injunction against the Swap Shop and Henn.

Henn is vocal about his treatment at the hands of the BSO, however. "You don't creep up behind someone, Taser them in the back, and expect to get away with it," he says.

"I fell when they Tasered me... I collapsed and fell into the arms of the chief, so they charged me for assaulting the chief."

As for the window in the squad car, Henn claims that he was only barely conscious and didn't have full control of his muscles.

On the day he was released, Henn told Swap Shop employees to evict Officer Bautista's wife and daughter from their spaces in the Swap Shop, confiscating hundreds of dollars' worth of their personal property.

Henn claims that Bautista was running a scam involving the renting of Swap Shop spaces to other BSO officers.

"He had these other BSO's in different spaces that I didn't know about because they were in plainclothes," Henn claims. "I can't prove it, but they were up to something or they wouldn't have been so upset."

The Bautistas didn't return phone calls and, unlike Leibovitch, haven't filed legal challenges to Henn's eviction of their businesses.

But the notion seems absurd: that Henn, the micromanager who kept such an obsessive watch over his Swap Shop, could have been unwittingly renting stalls to a conspiracy of off-duty cops.

You expect a battler like Preston Henn to react to his arrest by fighting back against the police.

But evicting elephants?

For the better part of two decades, the Hanneford Family Circus was nearly synonymous with the Swap Shop itself. The Hannefords are a performing clan that can trace its roots back three centuries and is one of the largest circus groups in the country. The Hannefords entertained shoppers with free performances in return for a weekly $12,500 payment from Henn that increased to $20,000 during the high season. The circus was a big draw for families, vendors say, and helped keep business going during the slow summer months.

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