Lawsuit Against Des Moines Police Officers, Chief, and City, Alleges Racial Profiling

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- On Monday Morning, for the first time, we heard from the two young men who were pulled over by two Des Moines Police Officers last month, in what civil rights organizations call a textbook example of racial profiling. Because of the lawsuit that's been filed by Montray Little and Jared Clinton, against Officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann, Chief Dana Wingert, as well as the City of Des Moines, Little and Clinton were not able to say much at the press conference. But Clinton did have some advice for how others, who might find themselves in the same situation, should handle interactions with police.

"For future people that are in this situation, I guess what I want them to take away from this is that, remain respectful to the officers in the stop," said Clinton.  "Just keep your composure and you should come out of that situation as I did."

Clinton's mother, Laural, who is a CCI member, says hers is not an anti-police family.

"I have friends and family members who are police officers," said Laural. "I worry about them too, but as a a parent, I worry about our young men to have to navigate a system that is intolerant of them, before they even know their names."

Civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the ACLU of Iowa say stops like this have been happening to people of color for too long and enough is enough.

"This is a visual confirmation of what people of color consistently say about the reasonable fear for their bodies and their lives," said Mark Stringer, ACLU of Iowa Executive Director. "That they feel during every single police encounter."

Police say an administrative review into the conduct of the officers who made the stop is underway.

"It`s looked at two or three different times over," said Sergeant Paul Parizek, Public Information Officer for the Des Moines Police Department. "There`s a lot of people that are gonna be involved. So, it`s going to be very, very thorough and it's going to get down into a lot of detail that has been overlooked so far."

Read the Clinton/Little lawsuit petition here.

The petition alleges that the traffic stop of Little and Clinton was a "pretextual" stop. Civil rights groups in Iowa are currently asking for the Iowa Supreme Court to ban minor traffic stops. The groups involved in that effort are the ACLU of Iowa, Iowa-Nebraska Conference of the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa, and 1,000 Kids for Iowa. The organizations say minor traffic or equipment violations should be declared unconstitutional. Last year, those groups filed an amicus brief with the Iowa Supreme Court, to declare "pretexual" traffic stops as unconstitutional.

Below is a link to another civil rights lawsuit filed by Brandon Brown, an attorney at the Parrish Law Firm. It alleges another pretextual traffic stop and it is currently pending in federal court (southern district).

Read the Brandon Brown civil rights lawsuit here.

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