LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Louisville couple removed from their vehicle and searched by officers after being pulled over in Aug. 2018 for allegedly not using a turn signal while driving home from church has been paid $75,000 by the city to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in 2019 on behalf of Anthony Parker, his 9-year-old son, and girlfriend Demetria Firman, was one of several ongoing suits from traffic stops in 2018 claiming racial bias by the department's Ninth Mobile Division in the city's West End.
On Sept. 9, the city agreed to pay the couple $75,000 with stipulations that Metro Government acknowledges no wrongdoing and the plaintiffs refrain from disparaging officers, according to a copy of the settlement obtained by WDRB News through the open records law.
In the lawsuit, Parker and Firman claimed police improperly pulled them over because they are Black and were driving a nice car "in a designated target neighborhood of LMPD."
Parker was pulled over at 28th Street and Broadway and was told he failed to use his turn signal. But a body camera video showed Parker had signaled to turn.
The three were surrounded by officers from the Ninth Mobile Division -- blocked in by unmarked vehicles behind and in front of them -- questioned, removed from the car and frisked while police thoroughly searched inside the car and trunk.
When Firman was frisked, in her church dress, while her purse and vehicle were "torn apart without consent," according to the lawsuit, she asked Officer Josh Doerr if "something was wrong."
"This is how we conduct all our stops," Doerr responded, according to his body cam video, obtained by WDRB News. "We're a different kind of unit that works a little different than traditional."
In fact, two of the officers involved in stopping Parker and Firman -- Kevin Crawford and Gabriel Hellard -- were also involved in pulling over teenager Tae-Ahn Lea that same month for making a wide turn.
Lea was forcibly removed from his car and handcuffed while a police dog searched his vehicle.
In recent sworn testimony, Crawford, who is now a patrol officer for the Jeffersonville Police Department in Clark County, Indiana, said Lea was slow to pull over, his hands were shaking, and he did not tell the officer he had a "weapon" -- a baseball bat -- in his vehicle.
"There were indications of criminal activity with Tae-Ahn Lea," Crawford said, according to a deposition taken earlier this year as part of a pending lawsuit filed by Lea against the Metro government and LMPD.
The traffic stops, Lea's in particular, prompted the department to implement several new policies which raised the threshold for pulling over drivers and added rules on when people can be removed from their vehicles or handcuffed as well as limiting the number of police cruisers that can be involved.
Crawford was also named in a lawsuit filed by a man who was pulled over with a mentally disabled passenger on Sept. 18, 2018, and frisked while a drug sniffing dog and officers searched the vehicle, even removing speakers out of the trunk.
The internal investigations against Crawford were all closed by exception because he resigned.
In the Parker and Firman stop, Officer Doerr was suspended one day for violating pat down procedures when he searched Firman without consent of proper authority.
But none of the other officers on the scene were punished for any of the other allegations of improper conduct during the stop.
The family was eventually released with no ticket issued.
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