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Image of a Police Officer
Police Officer; image courtesy of cocoparisienne via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

The Des Moines Police Department and Lonnie Porter recently agreed to settle a lawsuit over a traffic stop for $25,000. The incident itself occurred in 2016. According to a suit filed by Porter, he was driving when he “spotted a Des Moines police officer nearby and started recording live to Facebook.” In the recording, Porter can be heard saying that “he believed he would be pulled over despite having done nothing wrong.” In the recording, he added, “I ain’t going to try to avoid him because there’s no need to try and avoid him, because he is going to pull me over anyway.”

Eventually, Porter was proven right and was pulled over. Why? Well, in the video the officer who pulled him over can be heard “saying he cannot see Porter’s license plate.” In fact, he asked, “Quick question, where are your plates, man? Did you just buy the car?”

Image of Downtown Des Moines
Downtown Des Moines; image courtesy of Dsmspence via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

During the litigation process, Porter’s attorney, Brandon Brown, said “there was no probable cause for the stop,” and added, “What we saw on the video clearly, in our minds, established these constitutional violations.” Brown also noted that the video evidence “brings to light a problem within the Des Moines Police Department and city as a whole,” and said:

“We raised, obviously, the color of Lonnie’s skin in the petition. That was our theory. It may not have been an official claim, but our theory was Lonnie was racially profiled.”

The police department pushed back against the complaint that Porter was racially profiled, however. In fact, Des Moines police Sgt. Paul Parizek said, “There was absolutely no mention of racial profiling or any discriminatory acts in that lawsuit, so that’s not a piece of the litigation that was presented to the city.”

This wasn’t the first time the Des Moines Police Department was at the center of a lawsuit over alleged racial profiling, though. In fact, Porter’s suit was the “second case in recent weeks.” Back in August, “Montray Little and Jared Clinton accused Des Moines police Officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann of racially profiling them during a July 15 traffic stop.”

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement chimed in on the incidents, demanding the “police department release the internal investigation findings following the incident,” and called the case “an embarrassment for the city of Des Moines.”

For now, Brown and Porter are pleased with the settlement and hope their case brings about change in the Police Department. Brown said, “I think Lonnie would prefer it didn’t happen, but I commend him for stepping up and exposing this kind of behavior.”

Sources:

Des Moines Pays $25K to Driver Who Taped Encounter With White Officer Who Pulled Him Over For No Reason

Des Moines pays $25K in traffic stop settlement

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