LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Shortly after Tyrone Daugherty was pulled over by Louisville Metro Police in the city's West End last September for failing to use his turn signal, an officer opened the driver's door and asked him to get out.
When Daugherty asked Ninth Mobile Division Det. Kevin Crawford why the officer was ordering him out of his 2015 Dodge Challenger near Hale and Cecil avenues, Crawford said, "Because I’m giving you a lawful order to exit the vehicle."
Daugherty again asked Crawford for a specific reason why he and a mentally disabled passenger had to leave the car, according to a federal lawsuit filed against LMPD and the city on behalf of Daugherty last week.
"I don’t have to give you a reason, sir," Crawford responded. "The Supreme Court of Kentucky says I can get you out of the vehicle, and any other passengers."
The lawsuit alleges 'racially biased policing' and other civil rights violations during the stop. It is one of at least three recent lawsuits against Crawford and the Ninth Mobile Division over traffic stops in western Louisville.
Video in some of the stops has gone viral, prompting complaints of racial bias and community outrage that led to a drastic change to the department’s traffic stop policy.
“He was searching him because he is black driving a muscle sports car, a Challenger, which is profiled,” said attorney Shaun A. Wimberly Sr, who is representing Daugherty in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
"This is, 'Let’s pull over an African American and if we don’t find nothing, give them a traffic ticket.' … The officer already had his mind made up he was going to search this individual."
At the beginning of the stop, which took place about 6 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2018, Daugherty told Crawford he had a legally owned gun in his glove compartment and produced a concealed carry license.
The officer ordered Daugherty out of the vehicle, frisked him and the passenger, brought out a drug sniffing dog and had officers look inside and under the car as well as pull speakers out of the trunk during a 30-minute search before Daugherty was let go with only a traffic citation.
During the stop, both men had to remove their shoes and the man with Daugherty was searched twice. Daugherty was the man’s caregiver as part of his job, he said during the body cam video, obtained by WDRB.
Police do not comment on pending litigation but spokesman Dwight Mitchell said the stop is the subject of an ongoing internal investigation. Crawford resigned in June, Mitchell said.
Daugherty pleaded guilty in Jefferson District Court to failing to use his turn signal and paid a fine.
Crawford and other Ninth Mobile officers were also involved in a recent lawsuit filed by Anthony Parker over a stop from August of last year when Parker was driving home from church with his fianceé and 9-year-old son and was pulled over at 28th Street and Broadway. Officers told him he failed to use his turn signal.
Police body cam video showed Parker had used his turn signal.
The three were surrounded by officers – 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 Parker’s girlfriend, Demetria Firman, was searched, in her church dress, while her purse and vehicle were “torn apart without consent,” according to the suit, 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 addition, Crawford and other Ninth Mobile officers are also defendants in the stop of an African American teen last August for making a wide turn. Tae-Ahn Lea was forcibly removed from his car and handcuffed while a police dog searched his vehicle. His family sued police in June.
The lawsuits criticize the Ninth Mobile Division and police policy at the time, saying officers targeted poor neighborhoods and black residents by using alleged traffic violations as a pretext for stopping vehicles and searching occupants, hoping to find guns or drugs.
Wimberly cites four such lawsuits just this year against police in the Daugherty suit, saying it shows a pattern of racially biased stops by police – "a custom, practice and policy" by the department, according to the suit.
And Wimberly has his own similar suit against LMPD, claiming he did nothing wrong when officers stopped him on Dec. 17, 2017, while he was driving a luxury sports vehicle, according to The Courier-Journal.
Wimberly said officers had no reason to believe that Daugherty was a danger and ordering him out of the car and searching him, the passenger and vehicle was an unlawful seizure and detention.
"We can fairly say it would be very unlikely those individuals would have been pulled out of their car, shoes removed if this was in the East End – or even pulled over," he said.
After Daugherty was removed from his car, Crawford asked if he could search the vehicle. Daugherty told the officer he was not giving him that permission.
"I gotcha," Crawford responded, before searching Daugherty and then going back to his undercover vehicle and telling another officer he thought he caught a "hint of marijuana" when he stopped Daugherty.
Several officers and a K9 unit were on the scene almost immediately following the stop.
"I have no idea why the officer wanted to bring a K9 into this situation," said Wimberly.
No drugs were found during the search.
"Here is your citation, have a wonderful day," Crawford tells Daugherty.
Chief Steve Conrad and the city are also named in the suit.
Earlier this summer, under heavy scrutiny, Conrad implemented new traffic stop guidelines, raising the threshold for pulling over drivers and adding rules on when people can be removed from their vehicles or handcuffed as well as limiting the number of police and cruisers that can be involved.
The most recent lawsuit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.
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