A California jury awarded a Black mother and her two daughters more than $8m after they were unreasonably detained by police during a stop for coffee.
In September 2019, after a long drive from the family’s home in Las Vegas, Nevada, Aasylei Loggervale and her two daughters stopped at a Starbucks in Castro Valley, California. They were on a nine-hour journey to drop the older daughter at Berkeley City College, for a statistics exam.
An Alameda county sheriff’s deputy approached the Loggervales as they sat in their parked car. He told them he and his colleague were investigating a series of car break-ins that were being committed in the parking lot around a similar time.
In body-cam footage released by KTVU, Aasylei can be heard explaining that she was driving from Nevada in a rental car. The deputy asks for ID, to which Aasylei replies: “What’s that about? What kind of crime did I commit?”
According to a civil suit filed after the incident, “Ms Loggervale did not want to engage further … because, as a Black person, she feared that the encounter could result in serious physical harm or death to her and/or her daughters.”
It added: “This fear was justified in light of the high number of documented incidents of police brutality against Black people, even those who are completely innocent of any crimes.”
The situation escalated. In the body-camera footage, a deputy can be seen pulling Aasylei out of the car. A deputy can be heard saying: “Put your hands behind your back or you’re going to go to jail!” All three family members were handcuffed.
The women were put in the back of a patrol car for more than an hour, as deputies searched their car.
In the footage, the Loggervales can be heard repeatedly and tearfully asking why they were being detained. The deputies do not explain.
“You have to tell me what you’re detaining me for,” Aasylei asks.
“I do not,” a deputy replies.
The family was eventually let go. They were not charged with any crime.
According to the Loggervales’ attorney, Craig Peters, the older daughter, who had planned to transfer from her community college to UCLA, arrived 40 minutes late to her exam and scored a C, bringing down her straight-A record to a B.
“As a result of the [deputies’] actions, plaintiffs suffered a deprivation of their rights and liberties, sustained physical injuries, including abrasions to their wrists and arms, and suffered physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, fear, embarrassment, and other general damages,” the civil suit stated.
According to Peters, an internal investigation found that the deputies did nothing wrong and have since been promoted, KTVU reported.
Nevertheless, a jury on Wednesday awarded the family $8.25m in damages, after a verdict released on 1 March that decided against the deputies and Alameda county.
Peters said the sum was increased by the Bane Act, a California law that allows juries to quadruple damages awarded in cases that involve constitutional rights violations, the Washington Post reported.
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