Warm Southern Breeze

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Off duty cop in hoodie gets roughed up in Montgomery, Alabama

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, April 23, 2012

Shades of Trayvon…

Off-duty Montgomery police officer claims racial profiling over hoodie incident at mall

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012, 10:56 AM     Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012, 11:44 AM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama — A Montgomery police officer claims in a lawsuit that he was off-duty in plain clothes at a Montgomery mall last month when security officers assaulted him after ordering him to remove his sweatshirt hoodie.

Terence Scott, 26, filed the lawsuit April 11 in Montgomery County Circuit Court against ERMC, a Chattanooga, Tenn.,-based company that provides security for Eastdale Mall. The lawsuit also names one security guard and two other unnamed security guards as defendants.

Eastdale Mall is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit that seeks unspecified amounts in damages.

Efforts to reach an attorney for ERMC have been unsuccessful this morning.

Among the claims in Scott’s civil lawsuit are negligence, assault and battery, wantonness, and that security guards used racial profiling against him and others. Scott is black; the lawsuit does not specify the races of the security guards.

“Eastdale Mall has had a history of incidents involving African-American males being attacked, challenged, and/or bullied by security guards employed by defendant ERMC,” the lawsuit states.

Julian McPhillips, attorney for Scott, said today that the incident was “shades of Trayvon Martin.”

Martin was the unarmed 17-year-old who was shot and killed Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, the resident of a Sanford, Fla. gated community who had confronted Martin because he looked suspicious. Martin was wearing a hoodie sweatshirt. The case has triggered outrage among many because Zimmerman wasn’t charged in Martin’s death until weeks later.

Scott’s lawsuit states that Scott and his fiance, Cherkuita Brown, who also is employed by the Montgomery Police Department and was also in plain clothes were at the mall on March 3.

The weather was cool and it had been raining earlier and Scott was wearing a sweatshirt with a hood covering his neck and the top of his head, the lawsuit states. “However, his face was clearly visible, thus reflecting both his gender and ethnic background,” the lawsuit states.

As the couple was walking out of the mall to go to his car, a male security guard told him to “remove your hoodie.”

Scott looked back and recognized a female ERMC security guard who was with the male guard who had spoken to Scott, the lawsuit claims.

At first Scott took off his hood. “However, recognizing the one female security guard, and knowing he was close to the exit door, plaintiff considered it no big problem to put his hood back on, and so he did,” the lawsuit states.

The male guard then grabbed Scott and began using profanity.

A series of exchanges took place between Scott and the male guard, who had ordered Scott to use a particular exit to leave the mall, the lawsuit states. Two unnamed security officers came up and grabbed Scott from behind. The first male guard also jumped on Scott and began choking him for at least six to seven seconds, the lawsuit states.

McPhillips, said that during the confrontation Scott did identify himself as an off-duty police officer. Scott is a patrol officer who is originally from Birmingham, he said.

The incident ended, according to the lawsuit, when another off-duty police officer recognized Scott and shouted at the security guards that Scott was an off-duty police officer and to leave him alone.

Scott was diagnosed and treated for an inner neck bruise, strained right elbow and strained right thumb, according to the lawsuit.


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