Pretext Stops lead to 1.4 Million Settlement

SQ Attorneys

SQ Attorneys

Earlier this month it was reported that the Washington State Patrol agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle a federal lawsuit accusing one of its troopers of targeting people of color and immigrants by unlawfully stopping them via pre-text stops. The plaintiffs were all arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of impaired driving. All had “notable accents”. But when push came to shove, none of the plaintiffs showed any trace of alcohol or drug(s) in their blood.

This specific trooper was, in fact, responsible for an unprecedented number of arrests where involuntary post-arrest blood draws showed no intoxication whatsoever. And, a majority of those involved were people of color. It was found that the ratio of people tested w/o signs of actual intoxication far exceeded the general King County population. Disconcertingly, most of the physical sobriety tests and questioning in a vast majority of the trooper’s suspicious stops were done outside the view of his car’s dash camera.  The offending trooper was disciplined by the Washington State Patrol and is now on the State’s “Brady List,” which must be provided to all defendant’s when the trooper was involved in their case so that they are aware of his past behavior. Such behavior – by any trooper – is in direct opposition to the state patrol’s policy for non-biased police work.

Hopefully, this lawsuit victory will serve as a stark reminder that all vehicle stops must be above board and non-violative of a persons right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures, whether the stop involves people of color, immigrants or otherwise. Upholding the legal standards for initiating a traffic stop must be closely guarded and enforced; failure to do would only serve to impugn the sanctity of our democracy and our state and federal constitutions.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge (whether it is hate crime related or otherwise), immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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