DC police facing lawsuits for officer misconduct - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DC police facing lawsuits for officer misconduct

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The Metropolitan Police Department is facing some serious accusations of racial profiling, widespread abuse and rogue behavior by two attorneys.

Malik Shabazz and Greg Lattimer have filed lawsuits on behalf of three D.C. men who they say were victimized because they are black.

17-year-old "JBR," as he is being identified because he's a minor, says he was targeted last January. He says he was walking up Stanton Road in Southeast D.C. to a relative’s house when he says two white officers stopped and approached him. He says one was in front and another came up from behind.

JBR says, "The one in front asked me, ‘Do you have any weapons?’ I said, ‘No, Sir.’ And he said, ‘Do you mind if we search you?’ And I said, ‘Yes, Sir,’ and the officer behind said, ‘That's too bad,’ and pushed me against the car and started searching me anyway.”

JBR is a model student at the University of Islam. He has no suspensions and no arrests.

His attorney Malik Shabazz says what he suffered is an example of what he calls the rogue behavior of D.C. police, especially in the Seventh District.

"Young African-American males are being randomly stopped and frisked,” Shabazz says. “They're being randomly assaulted, and they're having their rights violated."

Shabazz, who works with Black Lawyers for Justice, has filed three lawsuits against MPD. One is on behalf of JBR.

Another is for O'Chauncy Maddux who allegedly had his hand fractured by police after being falsely accused of truancy.

The third lawsuit is on behalf of 34-year-old Cleman Sweptson, who was shot and killed last April on Sheridan Road in Southeast D.C. It happened just blocks from where JBR was stopped.

Police say Sweptson had a gun. His family and Shabazz say no way.

"He did not have a gun,” says Shabazz. “That is what our lawsuit claims."

Shabazz says the lawsuits are in part to force police to identify the officers involved in the cases, and to make D.C. police hand over other crucial information that used to be given without hassle. He says MPD and its officers must be held accountable.

The lawsuits are asking for a total of $11 million on behalf of the three plaintiffs. Shabazz says a class action lawsuit will likely be filed.

A D.C. police spokesperson says the department will not comment on pending litigation.

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