A Maryland man who claims Washington, D.C., police pulled him from his car and cavity-searched him in public suffered a major setback in court today, when a federal judge dismissed part of the lawsuit against the city.
Bryan Hawkins, of Fort Washington, alleged that police officers violated his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights with the search, which occurred in 2006 at 21st Street and Benning Road NE. According to his complaint, police were on the hunt for two suspected drug dealers when they stopped Hawkins’ car and ordered him out.
After frisking him clothed and finding no drugs, the complaint says, the cops decided to strip Hawkins and continue their search. We prefer to keep the BLT a family friendly blog, so we won’t go too deep into details, but according to the complaint the search occurred at a “busy intersection with several dozen people, including men, women and children.”
The police still found no drugs. Nonetheless, they arrested Hawkins and charged him with dealing cocaine. He was acquitted.
Hawkins filed suit against the city in 2007, asking for damages above $1.25 million. The case was stayed while the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia performed a criminal investigation against the officers involved. This month, the office said it would not bring criminal charges.
In her opinion today, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer dismissed Hawkins’ constitutional claims against the city, saying that the incident, while perhaps unfortunate, did not stem from police department policy, so the city could not be held liable.
The decision leaves Hawkins’ assault claims against the individual police officers intact. However, according to the city’s motion to dismiss, the officers have yet to be served.