Excerpt from The Washington Post | Read the entire story here
Allan Sergeant was heading to a CVS to buy some Tylenol for a headache last year when he was pulled over in the parking lot of the Maryland pharmacy by a Laurel City police officer. What allegedly happened next — a bizarre strip search in a brightly lit parking lot — became the subject of a federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday.
Sergeant, a black auto mechanic who lives in the District, says his rights were violated during a traffic stop when Officer Alfie G. Acol pulled down his pants and underwear, exposing his genitals to the public, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
“It was really disgraceful to me,” Sergeant said in an interview, describing the incident as “very humiliating.”
Acol, who had been an officer for just six months at the time of the traffic stop, remains on the 68-member police force but will not be commenting on the case, a department spokeswoman said. She also said that neither city nor the police department can comment.
“There was an internal investigation into this incident,” said Audrey Barnes, director of communications for the city and its police department. “We cannot comment about a personnel matter.”
The episode began at about 7:30 p.m. on March 9, 2014, when Sergeant was pulled over as he drove across the CVS parking lot.
Sergeant, 50, who emigrated from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and has been a legal permanent resident of the United States since 1990, said Acol asked him to get out of the car and put his hands in the air.
“Then he took me to the other side of my car in front of the CVS, where customers were,” Sergeant said. “He started unbuckling my belt. I said, ‘What are you doing? You can’t do this to me.’ He said, ‘I’m telling you to do what I say.’ ”
A second officer, who is not identified, arrived on the scene and watched as Acol strip-searched Sergeant, the lawsuit says.
“He pulled my pants down,” Sergeant said. “I had on boxers. He pulled my boxers down. He exposed me to the public. Then he told me I could go.”
At no time was Sergeant under arrest, the lawsuit says.
After Sergeant demanded the officer’s badge number, he said, the second officer gave him a citation for obstructing traffic.
The next day, Sergeant filed a police complaint, saying that he was racially profiled and humiliated when the officer strip-searched him.