DSU files civil rights complaint with US DOJ over Georgia traffic stop | The Latest from WDEL News

Emily Parkin

Delaware State University has formally requested the United States Department of Justice investigate possible civil rights violations during a traffic stop of the Women’s Lacrosse bus in Georgia last month.

In a letter to Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, DSU President Dr. Tony Allen said the Liberty County Police Department’s stop of the bus came from an illegal stop, and that the players’ bags should not have been searched.

Officers speaking to the bus driver during the stop said they were pulled over for being a commercial vehicle in the left lane, but DSU cites a Georgia law that exempts buses from the restriction against commercial trucks.

“The illegal behavior exhibited by these officers, the repeated misstatements by the sheriff (both about the law and the facts), the attempt to obscure the facts, the failure to turn over immediately all of the videos from the encounter, and the racial disparity evident to anyone who views the videos make it clear that neither the sheriff’s office nor local officials can be trusted to investigate this incident completely and impartially.”

The officers executing the stop were white, Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman is Black.

DSU said in one of the body cam clips, one of the officers can be heard saying “Bunch of dang school girls on the bus… probably some weed.”

The school said that showed a “presumptive mindset” as opposed to seeing whether the K9 officer detected any hint of narcotics.

DSU said the dog “sniffed, wagged its tail, and seemed to react playfully, and “does not show a canine that was particularly agitated or attentive.”

An officer does appear on the bus and told the athletes they were going to check all of the bags, and if anyone had anything “questionable, please tell me now, Because if we find it, guess what? We’re not gonna be able to help you.”

The DSU complaint said despite the dog not reacting, and no student responding to the officer on the bus, the search occurred, lasting 30-45 minutes and found nothing illegal. The driver wasn’t issued a written warning or citation.

DSU also said that the search was a violation of the 4th Amendment because the bus driver could not give permission to the officers to search the individual belongings of the passengers.

DSU then went on to point out the racial discrepancy between the officers and the DSU team.

“Surely the DSU women’s lacrosse team is not the first or only group of people—more particularly, people of color—to have been subjected to this type of illegal behavior. But for their bravery, composure, and presence of mind to record portions of this illegal stop, we might never have known its full extent.”

Sheriff Bowman claimed during a May 10 news conference that no personal property had been searched, and that the bus driver had violated the law by being in the left lane.







Bowman

Georgia’s Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman




DSU said it is for that reason that they want an agency above the Liberty County Sherriff’s Office to conduct the investigation into the stop.

“The illegal behavior exhibited by these officers, the repeated misstatements by the sheriff (both about the law and the facts), the attempt to obscure the facts, the failure to turn over immediately all of the videos from the encounter, and the racial disparity evident to anyone who views the videos make it clear that neither the sheriff’s office nor local officials can be trusted to investigate this incident completely and impartially.”

Read the entire formal complaint by Delaware State University to the U.S. Department of Justice:

https://www.wdel.com/news/dsu-files-civil-rights-complaint-with-us-doj-over-georgia-traffic-stop/article_4133e572-d6fa-11ec-a51e-4352811b1ec1.html

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