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May 7, 2019

Bakersfield to Settle Lawsuit with ACLU

BAKERSFIELD, CA – The city of Bakersfield will pay $60,000 to settle a lawsuit brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundations of Southern and Northern California. The suit was issued on behalf of a man arrested in 2017 for failing to answer questions by Bakersfield Police during a traffic stop.

Bakersfield resident, Robert Mitchell, who’s African American, was the plaintiff in the lawsuit. During the incident there were three other black men in the car. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff says Bakersfield Police used the excuse that air fresheners were dangling from the rearview mirror, the tires were bald, and the car had come to rest in the turn lane with the wheels resting on the dividing line, for the traffic stop.

Judging the stop to be unreasonable, Mitchel filmed the event and initially declined to give his name to the officers. He did so on the grounds that he was not being accused of a crime. This information comes courtesy of the ACLU of Southern California.

In the video the plaintiff repeatedly refuses to answer the officer’s question. Consequently, the officers demanded Mitchell exit the car where they quickly handcuffed him and transported him to the Kern County Central Receiving Facility. He was jailed there for over 12 hours.

Mitchell commented on the ruling, “I should have never been arrested for asserting my constitutional rights. I hope that going forward no one in my community will be arrested for exercising their rights.”

The city was also happy with the outcome of the suit. As part of the settlement they did not have to admit any liability. Also, it should be noted that the ACLU had the opportunity to move this case along to court but ultimately opted not to.

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