Delaware university to file civil rights complaint over lacrosse team’s bus search

The president of Delaware State University, a traditionally Black establishment, introduced on Friday that the college could be submitting a civil rights grievance after Georgia county officers searched the college’s girls’s lacrosse crew’s baggage.

“I am announcing the University’s intention to file a formal complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. The basis of this complaint will be police misconduct related to the April 20 incident in which Liberty County Sheriff’s Department officers conducted a constitutionally dubious ‘stop and search’ of a charter bus transporting the University’s women’s lacrosse team,” Delaware State President Tony Allen stated in his opening assertion throughout a press briefing.

Allen stated the cease and search — which started as a minor site visitors violation and escalated right into a seek for potential medicine — is “a violation of rights—the rights of every passenger on the bus and those of the driver.”

Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman approved the discharge of 1 officer’s physique digital camera footage from the 4 concerned, Allen stated. 

The president stated the footage backed up the college’s claims that private objects had been searched and that officers knew the ladies on the bus have been college students. He added that officers requested all the physique digital camera footage and related paperwork from the incident by way of a Freedom of Information Act, although the request had not but been answered.

“Sheriff Bowman insists that personal items were not searched; the video clearly shows officers searching toiletries, searching clothes, and opening a family graduation gift. It also raises questions about the conduct of both the dog handler and the officer who remained on the bus asking questions of our students,” Allen stated.

“Sheriff Bowman said the officers were unaware of the nature of the passengers on the bus; the video clearly demonstrates that the officers were aware that this was a busload of ‘school girls’ and that they were looking for drugs and drug paraphernalia,” the Delaware State president added.

In a press release on Tuesday, Liberty County Sheriff William Bowman stated a number of autos, together with the lacrosse crew’s bus had been searched. He stated it was “part of a commercial interdiction detail on” I-95, and that no offending objects had been discovered on the crew’s bus.

“At the time, or even in the weeks following, we were not aware that this stop was received as racial profiling. Although I do not believe any racial profiling took place based on the information I currently have, I welcome feedback from our community on ways that our law enforcement practices can be improved while still maintaining the law,” Bowman stated.

Bowman additionally stated he didn’t condone racial profiling and believed that officers had acted lawfully.

“As a veteran, former Georgia State Trooper, and sheriff of this department, I do not exercise racial profiling, allow racial profiling, or encourage racial profiling,” he added. “From what I have gathered, I believe that the stop was legal but I also understand my duty to help the public understand law enforcement while seeking ways to improve services.”

Top Delaware officers have condemned the incident, together with Gov. Jay Carney (D-Del.), who known as it “upsetting, concerning, and disappointing.” 

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