The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Metropolitan Police Department Officer Sean Lojacono after a video shows the cop aggressively searching a Black man who was discussing birthday plans with friends.
In the video that was posted in September 2017, M.B. Cottingham, 39, is seen in handcuffs while an officer searches him and allegedly placed his fingers between Cottingham’s buttocks.
“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” Cottingham told the ACLU. “It’s bad enough that members of my community are stopped and frisked by the police all the time. I’ve been frisked many times and even beaten by police. But this officer treated me like I’m not even a human being.”
Cunningham said he and his friends were on the sidewalk making plans for his birthday when he was approached by cops, according to the ACLU.
The police got out of their vehicle and asked the group if they had any weapons; the group responded that they did not.
According to the ACLU, Cunningham had a legal amount of marijuana on him and offered to have Officer Lojacono search him, but that search “exceeded the scope of a standard pat-down for weapons by jamming his fingers between Cottingham’s buttocks, sticking his thumb in his anus, and grabbing his scrotum, all through his sweatpants.”
Cottingham has suffered from anxiety, depression and developed a fear of going out in public since the incident, the ACLU claims.
“This shocking and unjustified invasion of Mr. Cottingham’s privacy was a violation of his constitutional rights and basic dignity,” saidACLU-DC Senior Staff Attorney Scott Michelman, who is representing Cottingham. “When a routine frisk turns into a search this invasive, the officer is not pursuing a legitimate law enforcement purpose but simply degrading someone and asserting his own power.”
Click here to read the complaint the ACLU filed against Lojacono filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.