Brian Chaney, a Black man from Michigan, is suing a suburban police department on allegations that one of its officers wrongfully detained and racially profiled him while he was out on an early morning walk.
The Associated Press reports that Chaney’s lawsuit was filed in federal court on Monday. It stems from a July 14 interaction with Keego Harbor Officer Richard Lindquist, who is white. The suit is asking for $10 million in damages.
From the AP:
Chaney said he was walking for exercise in Keego Harbor, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Detroit, after dropping his two teenage sons off at a gym for weight-training lessons.
The lawsuit says Lindquist drove up behind Chaney in a police vehicle and shouted: “Get your hands out of your pocket!”
According to the lawsuit, Lindquist then told Chaney: “I’m going to frisk you because you look like you have a weapon and were going to break into cars.” Chaney told reporters he saw only one other car, parked outside a coffee shop, further up the street.
According to the AP, the lawsuit claims Lindquist injured Chaney’s groin after shoving him against his squad car and also hurt his wrists with handcuffs.
Chaney, a licensed mental health therapist, said Lindquist called him a “dog” at one point. He recounted that exchange with WDIV-TV in Detroit:
“When I didn’t want to talk to him he started poking me in the back and said ‘look dog.’ And I said, ‘I’m a dog now?’ And the other cop said, ‘I have a black labradoodle and he’s smart,’” Chaney said.
Remember last week, when we talked about the American Psychological Association’s study that found officers are more likely to use a less respectful tone during interactions with Black people? *checks box*
According to the AP, Chaney said that neither Lindquist nor the other officers who arrived as backup explained why he was being detained. He said they only let him go after he asked Lindquist if he was going to put his knee into his neck–referring to Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
Man. The Root’s own Zack Linly explained it best with this story of a Black woman who was accused by Frontier Airlines of child trafficking because she was traveling with her adopted white sister: a key part of being Black in America is never knowing what mundane activity will look suspicious to other people.
In Chaney’s case, it was walking down the street with his hands in his pockets.
Keego Harbor Police Chief John Fitzgerald shared a statement to WDIV, saying that as of Friday, the department knew of the lawsuit but hadn’t received it yet.
“We dispute the claims of an illegal stop and investigation of Mr. Chaney that have been presented to us by the media but we will be conducting a thorough investigation of this incident. At this time, we cannot comment any further on the claims in the lawsuit, but facts will present themselves as this incident proceeds through the courts.”