SAN FRANCISCO -- A San Francisco police officer filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city Tuesday, saying he was racially profiled, choked and wrongfully arrested by several colleagues who didn't recognize him during a traffic stop.
Lorenzo Adamson said he was stopped in his Honda Accord by a field training officer on Lane Street in the Bayview neighborhood about 8:15 p.m. May 30 for not having a license plate.
Officer Brian Stansbury immediately asked Adamson if he was on probation or parole, a question that made Adamson believe he was being racially profiled, according to the suit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oakland. Adamson is African American and Stansbury is white.
Adamson, a 15-year veteran who is on disability leave for a back injury he suffered while on the job, objected to Stansbury's question and told the officer, "What does not having a plate on my car have to do with being on parole or probation? Shouldn't you be asking for my license, registration and insurance?" the suit said.
Stansbury replied, "That's what we do out here," according to the suit, filed by civil rights attorney John Burris.
Stansbury warned Adamson that he would take him out of the car if he didn't answer his question, the suit said. Adamson got out but became concerned because he believed being asked to exit his vehicle deviated from standard police procedure, the suit said.
An officer forcibly grabbed Adamson's wrist and told him to sit down, and Adamson told the officers that he was an officer at the Bayview Station, according to the suit.
But Officer Daniel Dudley then "inexplicably" jumped onto Adamson's back, the suit said, and tried to apply a restraint to his neck before choking him and tackling him to the ground. Adamson repeatedly said, "I'm a cop" before backup officers arrived and confirmed he was an officer, the complaint said.
During the incident, Officer Christopher O'Brien removed Adamson's gun from his waistband, the suit said.
The incident aggravated Adamson's back injury, and officers refused to call an ambulance, the suit said. "Adding insult to injury," the officers cited Adamson for resisting arrest and vehicle code violations, but the district attorney dropped the charges, the suit said.
"Mr. Adamson is most surprised by the violation of basic rules, asking about whether he's on probation or parole without asking for identification, and just assuming he was a parolee without any facts," Burris said, adding that his client also is concerned about how police "treat black men in general."
The suit names the city, Police Chief Greg Suhr, Stansbury, Dudley and O'Brien and seeks unspecified damages. The city has not responded to the suit in court. Police have said officers commonly ask people if they are on probation or parole during traffic stops because those in either category are subject to searches without warrants.
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