D.C. Police Officers Sued For Illegal Stop-and-Frisk Of Latino Man

D.C. Officers violently detained MD resident without cause and justify stop through use of secret gang database.

CONTACT:

Gregg Kelley, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org, 202-319-1070

WASHINGTON – On January 5, 2022, Mr. Rudy Flores filed suit against DC Police Officers Noah Duckett and Byron Alarcon for an illegal stop-and-frisk. The police attempted to justify the stop-and-frisk by alleging Mr. Flores was hanging out with known gang members without providing any evidence to support the allegations. This stop was part of a pattern of unjustified stops-and-frisks of Black and Hispanic/Latinx people in the District by the Metropolitan Police Department. In 2020, the District’s police department engaged in 81,020 stops, more than 90% of which were Black and Hispanic/Latino men. These stops are driven in part by the use of a secret so-called gang database which tracks more than 3600 District residents without their knowledge, and with no process to challenge or remove your name.  See attached fact sheet below.

There was no legal justification for stopping Mr. Flores or for conducting a frisk. For a stop to be legal, an officer must have reasonable articulable suspicion that the person has committed a crime, is committing a crime, or is about to commit a crime. A frisk is justified only if the officer has reasonable and articulable basis to believe the person is armed and poses a threat to the officer conducting a lawful stop. Neither of those conditions were present here.

The officers observed Mr. Flores speaking with a group of individuals and then followed and verbally harassed him as he walked down a dark street. The officers seized Mr. Flores, pushed him into a metal fence, and handcuffed him. While pressed against a fence, the officers searched Mr. Flores’ pockets without reasonable suspicion and scanned his arms for tattoos. The officers eventually released Mr. Flores without any charges. As a result of this illegal stop-and-frisk, Mr. Flores was left humiliated and temporarily deprived of his liberty.

“Police driving down the street should not make you afraid for your life, but that’s how I felt when these officers chased me down. I hope that this lawsuit helps stop other people from experiencing what I have,” said Mr. Flores.

Mr. Flores is represented by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP.

“Officers Duckett’s & Alarcon’s deplorable treatment of Mr. Flores stands alone as a dangerous infringement on civil rights. However, when you review the District’s practice of unlawful and racially biased stop-and-frisk procedures that overwhelmingly target Black and Brown men, a very clear pattern is seen. The District’s ongoing racial discrimination is only exacerbated through the use of gang databases, which do not require any form of due process before a resident is marked. The DC Gang Database is essentially made up exclusively of Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals and is hidden from the public. The consequences of such gang databases are devastating, and Mr. Flores’ experience is just one telling example,” Said Carlos Andino of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

You can access the filed complaint here.

Fact sheet on the DC Police Department’s gang database and stop and search data can be found here.

Data about the DC Police Department’s biased stop and search practices can be found here.

Recent reporting about the DC Police Department’s biased Gang Database can be found here.

PRESS:

DCist
Reuters
Washington Post

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ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE: Founded in 1968, The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs works to create legal, economic and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. While we fight discrimination against all people, we recognize the central role that current and historic race discrimination plays in sustaining inequity and recognize the critical importance of identifying, exposing, combatting and dismantling the systems that sustain racial oppression. For more information, please visit www.washlaw.org or call 202.319.1000. Follow us on Twitter at @WashLaw4CR.


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