The couple said the officers involved in the traffic stop violated their 4th and 14th Amendment rights. The incident happened at 3:20 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2019.
Shanelle Thomas was driving home from work with Camara Sankofa.
Sankofa said the commute home turned into a traffic stop with Michigan State Police that lasted two hours. Both individuals are educators and were heading home from where they work.
“I knew I did nothing wrong. There was no reason why I should have been pulled over other than driving while Black,” Sankofa said.
The couple’s attorney, Mark Francher with the ACLU, announced the lawsuit on Wednesday.
“The case concerns an unwarranted, unconstitutional traffic stop of this law abiding, responsible, professional couple, that lasted almost two hours,” Francher said. “In that time our clients were made to exit their vehicle. They were asked whether they possessed illegal drugs. They were questioned separately. K-9 units were called. Their vehicle was emptied and searched.”
Francher said when the traffic stop was over the couple was told to leave. They weren’t given a citation or a warning. He said this is a common issue with Michigan State Police.
“Although African Americans are 14% of Michigan population, they represent 17% of traffic stops by MSP in 2017. They represented 19% in 2018, and 20% in 2019,” Francher said.
Michigan State Police released this statement about the lawsuit: