On the eve of my annual Thanksgiving holiday, I was pulled over by a Phoenix police officer.
The officer, wearing a badge and a mask, asked me if I had any drugs on me.
Asking me for identification is an easy way to get me arrested for a misdemeanor, but I had no idea that a minor traffic violation could land you in jail for a year.
I didn’t ask for my ID.
Instead, I asked the officer for my driver’s license and registration.
I was told that I would be asked to wait for a warrant.
The warrant didn’t come.
I spent the night in jail, handcuffed and facing a $2,500 fine.
A few weeks later, I sued the city for violating my civil rights, alleging that the officer had violated my rights under Arizona law and violated my Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.
Phoenix settled the case in January.
The city agreed to a $1 million payment and released me to return to work.
The experience was heartbreaking.
Phoenix has been criticized for its police tactics, but in this case, the Phoenix Police Department’s tactics were too little, too late.
The incident that sparked my lawsuit is illustrative of how Phoenix’s policies have been used to intimidate residents of low-income and minority neighborhoods.
While I have been targeted for arrest for minor traffic violations, Phoenix police have also arrested and detained more people than any other city in Arizona.
My lawsuit says that Phoenix has “violated the rights of many people to be free from police misconduct,” and that the police have made the Phoenix police force “a tool of the criminal justice system.”
Phoenix police officers, for example, have used their SWAT teams to conduct raids on homes, confiscate guns, search cars and seize drugs from people who were not suspects in a crime.
Phoenix police are also accused of beating people, tasing them, and shooting at people.
Phoenix is one of the worst cities in America when it comes to racial profiling.
The police department has been accused of racially profiling African Americans.
For example, during my time in jail in 2017, officers told me that they were “going to knock on your door” if I didn, in fact, have drugs on my person.
During my time incarcerated, I had a black roommate.
One day, a Phoenix officer told me to come to the police station and sit on a bench for two hours, but the next day, I came back to see my roommate lying on the floor.
I asked why my roommate had to be so injured.
The Phoenix police sergeant explained that the officers would be checking my blood for drugs and that if they found drugs on him, he would be arrested and put in jail.
The officers didn’t stop me from sitting on the bench.
I continued to be detained and beaten by the Phoenix officers.
I eventually filed a lawsuit against the Phoenix PD for violating the civil rights of me, my roommate and other residents of Phoenix.
The lawsuit is the result of a campaign to bring attention to the Phoenix Phoenix Police Dept.’s racial profiling tactics.
The campaign, spearheaded by the ACLU of Arizona, brought attention to how Phoenix police departments have used the SWAT teams, arrest quotas, excessive force, racial profiling and other unconstitutional tactics to target low- and middle-income communities of color.
The ACLU of Phoenix filed the lawsuit in federal court in Arizona, claiming that Phoenix police used the tactics in an unconstitutional manner.
We are proud of our success and look forward to defending our clients and defending the rights and liberties of the community we serve.
I am hopeful that our lawsuit will help make Phoenix more accountable and that it will help change how police officers use and abuse the power of their badges.
Phoenix was among the worst states in the country for police brutality and discrimination against low-level citizens.
It was also among the top 20 for racial bias and discrimination.
Phoenix Police have a long history of abusing and abusing people of color and using the powers of the badge to harass and harass residents of lower-income, minority neighborhoods, including my home town of Phoenix, where I grew up.
In 2018, the city settled the lawsuit against me for $1.5 million.
I hope that this settlement will bring the Phoenix, Arizona police department and the community together and provide a clear vision of how our police department should conduct itself and conduct themselves in the future.
The federal government should not be allowing Phoenix police to abuse the badge and use the power to intimidate and harass low-wage residents of minority communities.
The Justice Department should investigate these practices and take concrete actions to end the abusive policing practices and make Phoenix safer.
I urge the Department of Justice to investigate Phoenix police and hold officers accountable.
[This article was produced by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.]
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