The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called attention to abusive and illegal police stops in the nation’s capital and in other cities across the country.
A video showing an invasive search, that included the groping of a man’s genitals and rear end, is at the center of a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the ACLU, on behalf of the man, WUSA-TV reported.
The lawsuit claimed that District of Columbia Officer Sean Lojacono violated M.B. Cottingham’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by government officers. The ACLU is now calling other people subjected to the same treatment to come forward.
Cottingham, a 39-year-old father, and a few friends were sitting in lawn chairs on a public sidewalk with an open container of alcohol in October 2017. Several officers approached them and asked if they had weapons, which they didn’t.
Lojacono noticed a small bulge in Cottingham’s sock that turned out to be a small bag containing less than an eighth of an ounce of marijuana, a quantity that’s legal to possess in the District of Columbia. Cottingham gave the officers permission to conduct a quick pat down. But it turned out be much more invasive.
“Come on man! Come on man!” Cottingham protested on the video. “He stuck his finger in my crack, man!”
Lojacono put handcuffs on Cottingham and did it a few more times. “Come on man! Stop fingering me, though, bruh!” he stated. The cops didn’t cite any of the men.
At a D.C. Council oversight hearing in June, Police Chief Peter Newsham admitted to lawmakers that the officer’s actions appeared inappropriate, the WUSA-TV reported. He added that the Lojacono was disciplined but still on active duty.