A man who was fondled during a police stop in Washington, D.C. has spoken out against the disgusting actions of one cop. The story prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of the District Of Columbia to file a lawsuit Wednesday, July 18.
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Sean Lojacono initiated an “unconstitutional and exceedingly invasive bodily search” during an encounter with M.B. Cottingham, a 39-year-old man, last September, the ACLU said in the suit. There was no warrant, reasonable suspicion or probable cause why Lojacono stopped Cottingham, who was treated inhumanely, he said.
“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” Cottingham, a Washington, D.C. resident and ice cream vendor, said. “It’s bad enough that members of my community are stopped and frisked by the police all the time. I’ve been frisked many times and even beaten by police. But this officer treated me like I’m not even a human being.”
Officers confronted Cottingham and his friends who were standing on a sidewalk. The men were asked if they had weapons; they didn’t have any, they said. Lojacono later began patting down Cottingham who offered to comply with the procedure after showing a small and legal amount of marijuana to the officer. The pat-down bordered on sexual abuse when Lojacono put his fingers in the man’s anus and between the man’s buttocks, as well as grabbing his scrotum through his sweatpants. Cottingham verbally protested before he was handcuffed and subjected to more horrific touching.
The incident traumatized Cottingham, who felt physical pain in the probed areas; he also has ongoing anxiety, depression and fear of being in public. He had to miss work for a month after the encounter.
Video of the stop-and-frisk incident was shocking.
“It looked like it was an inappropriate touching by the officer,” MPD Chief Peter Newsham said at a July 12 D.C. Council community policing hearing.
Cottingham’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures was violated, the ACLU asserted in the suit.