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Can I sue the Sheriffs Department for discrimination or racial profiling?

Cleveland, OH |

3 weeks ago my fíance and I was stopped for a license plate light, I was driving. The cop found a empty plastic bag. He only frisked me and got me for possession of marijuana(less than a gram), possession of drug paraphernalia, expired tags, and a seatbelt ticket. My problem is, Why didn't she get frisked or issued a seatbelt ticket? Neither of us was wearing a seatbelt. I am a black man and she is white. We both agree that this was racially motivated. He even questioned me about the seatbelt. Can I sue in regards to the seatbelt ticket and/or seatbelt ticket? The law should count for everyone, regardless of who it is.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Uh, you were driving. That all by itself is a far more logical reason for the difference in treatment by the cop than race. In any event, that fact will as a matter of law defeat any contention in any legal action by you that race was the basis for the difference in police treatment. A lawsuit here on this theory is a waste of time.

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  2. My colleague lays out very clear facts to guide you.

    It is important to keep in mind that law enforcement officials are generally permitted to 'frisk' an individual, so long as they have reasonable suspicion. This is low standard that can easily be met. 'Reasonable suspicion' is very different from 'probable cause.'

    In your situation, the police officer had probable cause to stop your vehicle because you had what your facts state was defective license plate light. Equipped with this probable cause, the police officer was warranted to stop you.

    I am little confused why you want to proceed with a suit, as the officer did not act outside the law. Please advise if there are additional facts.

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