A police officer in Washington, D.C., is being sued after a video showed him allegedly grab a Black man’s genitals and probe his anus during a stop-and-frisk last year.
In the 2-minute video, 39-year-old M.B. Cottingham was being searched by Metropolitan Police Department Officer Sean Lojacono on Sept. 27, 2017.
Cottingham and his friends were relaxing on the sidewalk and discussing his upcoming birthday party when two cop cars pulled up, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The cops asked Cottingham and his friends if they had any weapons, and the group said they did not. Cottingham then voluntarily pulled out a legal amount of marijuana from his sock and agreed to let Lojacono pat him down to prove they were clean, according to the ACLU.
The normal body searched became a “shocking and unjustified invasion” of Cottingham’s privacy, according to ACLU staff attorney Scott Michelman, who is representing Cottingham.
The ACLU is also arguing the cop violated Cottingham’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
“He stuck his finger in my crack, man,” Cottingham said to his friends in the video. “Don’t do that, man … I don’t have nothing.”
Cottingham, following the officer’s commands, then squatted. Lojacono then allegedly stuck his fingers into the man’s buttocks and anus and grabbed his scrotum.
“Stop fingering me though, bruh,” Cottingham told Lojacono. “You fingering my a–, man.”
“I’m outside your pants, bro,” the officer replied. “Relax.”
“Don’t sit here and finger my a— like that, like I’m not a man,” Cottingham said.
Cottingham’s lawyers believe the video shows enough of a violation for a lawsuit.
“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,” Michelman said in a statement.
As a result of the invasive search, Cottingham now suffers ongoing anxiety, depression and fear of being in public, ACLU officials said.
“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” Cottingham said in a statement. “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.”
The police department has not commented.
(Photo: WUSA 9)