A Missouri black man filed a lawsuit against Maryland Heights Police accusing officers of unlawful seizure, excessive force, and unlawful search after a traffic stop almost turned into tragedy.
On Oct. 26, 2016, Tranell Stewart, 38, was pulled over by Maryland Heights police while he was pulling into his apartment complex parking lot. Police accused Stewart of failing to use his turn signal at some point during his drive home. Stewart denied the allegations and turned to retrieve his young son from the backseat when he was accosted by officers.
According to a lawsuit filed by Stewart, officers grabbed him by his hair and said, “You’re going to die today.”
Stewart also claims more officers joined the scene and began hitting and punching him while he was already in handcuffs.
After officers allegedly finished pummeling Stewart, they then performed a search of his apartment while his former girlfriend and neighbor watched.
During the incident, Stewart suffered a fractured nose and a black eye. He also says the unnecessary search of his apartment caused him and his family emotional pain and fear. The family says they want police accountability and are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the Maryland Heights police.
“I want people to know how Maryland Heights police operate,” said Stewart during an interview with AP. “I can’t say anything positive, I can’t say be safe because these are the people who are supposed to be protecting and serving us. It’s like we’re under attack.”
The lawsuit also aims at the city for its unwillingness to address unlawful search and seizures involving black people.
According to a 2019 report conducted by the Missouri Attorney General, Black drivers are 91% more likely to be pulled over by the police as compared to their white counterparts.
The report also reveals some telling information about search rates of motorists in the state.
The average search rate for motorists who were stopped in 2018 was 6.6%, but for blacks, it was 8.9%.
Why are black motorists looked at as such a threat? Driving while black is a real fear regular hard working African-Americans feel every time a police car appears in their rearview mirror.
Imagine being terrified of the people who are paid to protect you . That is what millions of black people feel on a daily basis.
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