An Important Step in Combating Discriminatory Policing

In the spring of 2013, a black DC resident Ruth Richards who was born in Jamaica was walking to her friend’s house when she encountered her ex-husband and his girlfriend. The two got into an argument in which her ex-husband assaulted her. Several people called 911 and Metropolitan Police Department Officer Jennifer Gelsomino arrived at the scene, ignored the pleas of witnesses about what happened, asked Ms. Richards where she was born twice, and without further questioning took her into custody. Ms. Richard filed suit against Officer Gelsomino and is represented by the Committee and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.

richardsOn March 3, 2017, Judge Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia denied Officer Gelsomino’s motion to dismiss Ms. Richard’s complaint, finding that Ms. Richards had adequately pled that the officer had no probable cause to arrest Ms. Gelsomino and that she violated the constitution for arresting Ms. Richards solely because of her national origin. Importantly, the opinion noted that even if the Officer had probable cause, she still could have violated the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. That finding is crucially important to combating discriminatory policing because it sends a clear message the Constitution does not allow police officers to hide behind a legal justification such as probable cause to disparately arrest people of certain races and national origins.

The case will now proceed to discovery.

Read the opinion here...


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