The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU-CO) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [press release] Wednesday alleging unlawful racial profiling.
In the complaint [text, PDF], the ACLU alleges officers from the Aurora police department prevented Omar Hassan, a black Ethiopian man, from dining at a Caribou Coffee [corporate website] in March 2016. The complaint alleges the officers racially profiled Hassan due to the fact he spoke with an accent and wore a hoodie. According to the suit they officers forced him to leave the establishment, without a request from the Caribou staff, after informing him that his “kind” was not welcome there. The suit alleges the officers profiling resulted in an unlawful seizure of Mr. Hassan:
Defendants intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly seized Plaintiff without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
The conduct of Defendants, including their threatening presence, touching of weapons, repeated language and tone of voice, and escorting of Mr. Hassan in near proximity, communicated to Mr. Hassan that he was compelled to comply with their requests that he leave the store. No reasonable person would have felt free to decline Defendants’ instructions or otherwise terminate the encounter.
Defendants did not at any time have probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or any other legally valid basis to believe that Plaintiff had committed or was committing any violation of the law prior to seizing his person.
The Aurora Police Department [official website] disagrees [statement] with the allegations in the complaint, but will not may any further comments pertaining to this matter.
The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages.