Daniel Hodges is suing Annapolis City, Mayor Pantelides, Police Chief Michael Pristoop and several officers alleging racial profiling by unlawfully stopping and searching his vehicle several times. Hodges is white and the traffic stops occurred in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. During the stops, Hodges alleges that he was questioned about drug use and his car was subject to a search after a drug-sniffing dog alerted police to the presence of drugs. None were found and Hodges maintains that he does not use drugs.
Hodges’ lawyer Nevin Young says he believes the officers presumed his client to be in the minority neighborhoods to buy illegal drugs.
According to Nevin Young, Hodges’ attorney, the suit alleges that the Annapolis Police have a longstanding strategy and policy of searching white motorists seen leaving minority neighborhoods.
The suit also alleges that the Annapolis Police policy of only keeping video evidence for 28 days after a traffic stop is a violation of the laws dealing with disclosure of evidence under the Supreme Court’s decision in Brady v. Maryland, and that the unlawful searches also violate Federal Fair Housing laws, in that the police are using intimidation and harassment to reinforce a longstanding regime of de facto segregation within the City of Annapolis.
“We think this lawsuit is important for the vindication of the rights of all citizens to travel freely, associate freely, and live where they choose without the fear of police suspicion and harassment due to racial differences,” said Young. “I have had more than one person contact me privately since learning of the case to volunteer to testify that the same thing happened to them; they were stopped and accused of possessing illegal drugs simply by virtue of being in the vicinity of a public housing project.”
Young witnessed a recent stop of Hodges after a City police officer pulled Hodges over in front of his home. When the police would not move their car which was blocking his driveway, Young began to video the encounter.
City and police officials declined to comment on the litigation.