A Black teen was left “traumatized” after a half dozen police officers racially profiled him while he was walking home from school, put him on the ground and handcuffed him “soley due to his race,” according to a lawsuit filed in Kentucky. Adding literal insult to injury, the officers with the Lexington Police Department soon realized the unidentified 15-year-old they targeted had actually done nothing wrong at all.
It was all part of “good faith” policing, law enforcement officials said. But the teen’s mom begged to differ and sued the six officers involved as well as the city of Lexington for the “embarrassment and humiliation as well as mental anguish” that the lawsuit claims the teenager suffered as a result of the police encounter in January of last year, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
The lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the teen’s mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the then-high school freshman was still reeling from his experience with the officers nearly two years later.
“He was pretty traumatized,” attorney Edward Dove told the Herald-Leader. “He’s still receiving some counseling sessions.”
The lawsuit claims the police had no legal basis to stop the teen, let alone detain him, and is seeking unspecified damages along with an order for the city to admit it has “adopted a policy of deliberate indifference” when it comes to racial profiling.
It was not immediately clear whether any bodycam footage exists.
A lawyer representing the city suggested the lawsuit had no merit.
The police officers “acted in good faith, without any malice or ill-motives, and with no intent at any time to violate any” of the 9th grader’s constitutional rights, Joseph Todd Henning reportedly wrote.
If reports are any indication, the teen’s mother is right about the selective pattern of cops enforcing laws along racial lines in Lexington, where the police department has been a mess, especially in recent years.
Just in April, a former Lexington police officer claimed the department has a “long history of racial discrimination without accountability.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that a legal complaint from former Lexington Police Sgt. Jervis Middleton “accuses the department of tolerating racism from its officers, including use of racial slurs, targeting Black people, racial profiling and harassment of Black Lexington residents.”
To be sure, racial profiling is far from limited to just Lexington.
From suburban Boston to Beverly Hills to even employing technology to specifically target Black and brown neighborhoods, police forces across the country have shown that they are willing to go to extreme lengths just to look for non-white people doing something wrong, even if they’re actually not breaking any law at all.
This is America.