Sunday, July 08, 2001

Police sergeant claims racial profiling

Officer sues over county police stops

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — A city police sergeant filed a federal lawsuit against the Jefferson County Police Department and two of its officers, claiming he was a victim of racial profiling.

        Sgt. Lopez High, who is African-American, filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court alleging his civil rights were violated last July by two county police officers. The officers pulled up when Sgt. High's car broke down and questioned him as though he were a “suspected drug dealer,” Sgt. High's attorney Thomas Clay told The Courier-Journal.

        Two weeks later, the lawsuit claims, Sgt. High was the subject of profiling again when one of the officers from the earlier incident pulled him over.

        Sgt. High is asking for $250,000 in damages.

        The lawsuit names Jefferson County Police officers Mark Fuchs and Steve Moran — who are both white — as defendants, as well as the department.

        In the lawsuit, Sgt. High claims he was “deprived of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures” when his car broke down on Fern Creek Road on July 14 last year.

        As the car was about to be towed, officers Fuchs and Moran “pulled up and were kind of scoping the car,” Officer Moran said. They noticed that his vehicle registration had expired and ordered him to produce a current decal, which he did, Mr. Clay said. When they asked him to put the decal on his license plate, Sgt. High refused, explaining that he would comply after the car was hauled away, Mr. Clay said.

        During the incident, the lawsuit alleges, Officer Fuchs called Sgt. High “boy” and used profanity.

        Jefferson County Police Chief William Carcara, in a letter addressed to Sgt. High and dated Aug. 7, said Officer Fuchs would receive an oral reprimand and that Officer Moran and the officers' sergeant were exonerated in the incident. The document was provided to The Courier-Journal by Mr. Clay.

        “We cannot comment on any pending litigation at this time,” said Officer Stacey Redmon, a Jefferson County Police spokesman.

        The Jefferson County Police Department in December began documenting traffic and pedestrian stops to address the issue of racial profiling. The department's statistics have shown that about four times as many whites as African-Americans were stopped — a figure close to the racial makeup of the county, including the city of Louisville.


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- Police sergeant claims racial profiling