San Jose police are facing another racial-profiling lawsuit. In this case, a father says he was followed by police, held at gunpoint in front of his child, all because of the color of his skin.
Emmanuel Stephens claims he was followed home by a San Jose police officer without cause, and with his two daughters age 7 and 14 in the car, says the officer pulled a gun and threatened his children. In a lawsuit filed in federal court this week, Stephens’ attorney alleges it only happened because of the color of his client’s skin.
"I told my 14-year-old to get my camera phone,” Stephens’ wife Jasmine Whitley said Friday. “The cop said, if she does, she's going to jail, too.”
The officer told them police had received a report of a suspicious black man in the neighborhood and “had to check it out,” Whitley said.
The incident happened last October. Whitley and Stephens filed a complaint with police and the Office of the Independent Police Auditor but haven't heard back.
Fed up, they filed a lawsuit.
"I have nothing against police, but this one abused his authority,” Whitley said.
This accusation of racial profiling comes after another case, filed in May, which accuses San Jose police of prolonged stops for traffic infractions.
One man, Shauncey Burt, says he was pulled over three times last year, detained for up to an hour and ordered to sit on the curb handcuffed. His attorney, Nicholas Emanuel, says this is done, mostly, to drivers who are black or Latino.
"Of all the people stopped and detained long, 80 percent are Latino or African-American,” Emanuel said.
Burt’s case has become a class-action lawsuit that could involve at least 3,000 people.
Attempts by NBC Bay Area to reach the San Jose Police Department or the city attorney for comment were not successful.