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PCJF Helps Win $125K Judgment for Illegal Public Strip Search

Reprinted from NBC4 Washington

Watch the broadcast video above, featuring an interview with Mara Verheyden-Hilliard

A D.C. man has won a $125,000 judgment after he was strip-searched by a Laurel, Maryland police officer in 2014 — an incident that police officials initially denied ever happened.

“I feared for my life,” said Allan Sergeant in a 2015 interview. “I feared he would probably have shot me. Like I’ve seen happen in the past with other people.”

Sergeant says he was strip-searched in the parking lot of a CVS drugstore on Route 1 in Laurel — while passers-by watched.

At the time, officials with the Laurel police department denied that any strip search took place, and called the allegations outrageous.

However, Sergeant’s attorney said that during court proceedings it was revealed that police had documents showing that the search did happen.

“What happened to him is so demeaning, degrading, humiliating and really terrorizing,” said his attorney, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice. “If you can imagine being pulled over for no reason, taken out of a car, and searched — but then further, strip-searched.”

Tuesday, a judge entered the judgment against Officer Alfi Alcol, who remains a part of the city’s police department.

A spokesperson for the City of Laurel issued a statement on behalf of the police. “The City of Laurel and the Laurel Police Department were removed from this case quite some time ago,” said Chief Richard McLaughlin of the Laurel Police Department. “We have not been notified that it has been finalized.”

Published at 7:07 PM EDT on Mar 21, 2017

[NOTE, not mentioned in this press report: The suit was a joint effort between PCJF and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.]