Suit alleges racial profiling in 2021 Louisiana traffic stop
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two Black men claim in a new federal lawsuit that they were subjected to an illegal, racially motivated and humiliating traffic stop and search last year by deputies in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana announced the suit Thursday as part of its ongoing Justice Lab initiative. The project recruits private lawyers and firms to aid in litigation targeting allegations of racially motivated police abuses.
Centering on a March 13, 2021, stop in Mandeville, the lawsuit says Bruce Washington, 53, of Bogalusa, was taking his cousin, Gregory Lane, 47, of Mandeville, to get a haircut when he stopped at a Mandeville gas station. It claims two deputies began monitoring their movements without cause. As Washington drove away, deputies followed them and pulled them over before being joined by a third deputy. The suit says one deputy claimed, incorrectly according to the suit, that Washington had failed to use his turn signal.
The sheriff’s office declined comment on pending litigation Friday.
The suit says the two were questioned and patted down. Lane’s request to call his wife so that she could call a lawyer was refused. Washington was told, after saying he knew his legal rights, that the traffic stop could “go a different way than it has to be,” which Washington perceived as a threat, the lawsuit said.
The suit adds that the men ran into administrative hurdles, and at times hostility from sheriff’s office workers, as they tried to file a complaint against the deputies.
The suit seeks unspecified damages from Sheriff Randy Smith, the three deputies and multiple unidentified sheriff’s office workers. It says Washington and Lane were victims of “internalized racial stereotyping of delinquency and dangerousness rooted in the history of criminalization of Black people in Louisiana.”
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