By Julian Verdon
SAN RAFAEL – Karl Bracy and his attorney, John Burris, announced the filing of a civil rights lawsuit Thursday against the city of San Rafael and several of its officers after they claimed that San Rafael police terrorized Bracy for driving while Black.
Burris released this statement, “this is an egregious case of stopping a Black man on a hunch without having a scintilla of evidence. Even though Mr. Bracy’s treatment isn’t physically as brutal as many of the highly visible police cases in the news, the issue reflects the kind of insults to citizenship and self-esteem that African Americans, especially men, routinely suffer.”
“The officers’ conduct was intentional, reckless, and negligent toward Mr. Bracy’s physical and mental well-being. Mr. Bracy’s humiliation could have been avoided with good competent police work,” added Burris.
Apparently, on the day of the incident, Bracy had stopped at a 7/11 and noticed three police vehicles parked nearby upon exiting the store. Bracy claimed he did not think much of it other than that he was a Black man and did not want to attract attention to himself.
However, once he turned onto the road, he noticed a police car trailing behind him. Initially, he thought they were looking for someone else, but after five minutes of driving, they stopped him.
A police officer then pointed a gun at Bracy and ordered him to step out of his vehicle. Bracy then noticed that they were a total of three officers with their guns drawn. He stepped out, still in his USPS uniform, and in fear for his life.
Bracy did not know why he was stopped and said he had no prior criminal record. He said they ignored his pleas that he was off-duty from his job at the post office but said the officers ignored him, handcuffed him and placed him in the back of one of their police vehicles.
More and more police officers began to arrive at the scene, with several still pointing their guns at him. After 10 minutes of searching his vehicle, they determined they had the wrong car and that Bracy was free to leave.
Burris asserts that Bracy was not allowed to leave during the entire detainment and was frightened for his life.
Before Bracy’s detainment, a dispatcher put a report out on a car theft to the police, said Burris, noting that “The police dispatcher had broadcast that three people had stolen a car, two men and a woman. The stolen vehicle was a 2011 white Impala with Black tires. Oddly, the dispatcher did not report any information about the thieves’ age, race, clothing, or physical description.”
Bracy drove a 2007 white Malibu and was accompanied by no one when he was detained by law enforcement. Moreover, one of the officers present expressed his own doubts about whether Bracy’s car was the one mentioned in the dispatch.
The officers did not check Bracy’s license plate to determine whether he owned his 2007 white Malibu. Also, one of the officers incorrectly claimed that they were following a 2011 white Impala despite the Malibu logo on the back of Bracy’s vehicle.
The complaint says that Bracy suffers from anxiety after the incident.
“He had to take a leave of absence from his employment because he is unable to work due to the significant psychological injuries he suffered in this incident. His primary care physician has referred Mr. Bracy to a psychiatrist,” said Burris.
The complaint charges the officers’ actions were a clear violation of Bracy’s Constitutional rights.
“Defendants’ above-described conduct constituted violations of Bracy’s rights as provided for under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These rights include but are not limited to the right to be free from excessive force and/or the arbitrary and/or unreasonable use of force against him without due process,” reads the pleading.
The document asserts that California police officers are required to undergo the necessary training and that their force must be reasonable with the threat at hand.
The lawsuit also asserts that Bracy was subjected to an unreasonable search and seizure.
The officers shouted at Bracy to “driver, stick your hands out of the window.” The document declared the officers’ actions a form of intimidation and that it was unreasonable search and seizure.
The complaint has three subsequent components involving the officer’s behavior. The third claims a cause for negligence because the officers did not use reasonable care when interacting with Bracy. The second says that the officers who stopped Bracy acted in a way to cause harm to him and thus responsible for assault and battery offenses.
The last says that the officer also acted with a wanton disregard for the probable outcome of causing emotional distress to Bracy and allege that law enforcement’s behavior was the root cause for his anxiety. “[The officers’] conduct was the actual and proximate cause of the emotional distress suffered by Bracy.”
Bracy’s team seeks relief for damages caused by the officers, such as lost income, punitive damages, and statutory damages.
Bracy’s encounter with law enforcement comes amid a year with protests and riots about Black Lives Matter; a social movement concerned with police violence against Black Americans.
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