Police in a small Pennsylvania town launched a manhunt in 2020 for a suspect accused of shooting a fellow officer. According to a lawsuit filed against the department, the cops located their suspect only after harassing a bunch of innocent Black people.
On Dec. 20, 2020, McKeesport and Allegheny County police began searching aggressively for Koby Lee Francis. The ACLU of Pennsylvania claims in a lawsuit filed Monday that the search was narrowly tailored to the Black community and included “abusive tactics” such as forcing their way into homes with their guns drawn and excessive force.
The white folks in McKeesport were not met with so much force, the suit says.
“The Police Defendants used violence, intimidation and unwarranted force while searching Plaintiffs without any probable cause or individualized suspicion. Meanwhile, the same police treated white residents of the same McKeesport neighborhoods—including those who had some connection to Mr. Francis—much less harshly than they treated Plaintiffs,” the suit reads.
In a press conference, residents recalled frightening interactions with the police while just minding their own Black business.
Read more from CBS News:
“I’m here to hold them accountable for what they did in our community and at our home,” Courtney Thompkins said.
During a news conference, Thompkins describes the day she says more than a dozen McKeesport police officers forced their way into her home at gunpoint.
She says shortly after McKeesport Police Officer Jerry Athans was shot, more than a dozen police officers with guns drawn stopped her boyfriend, who she says didn’t even fit the description of the suspect, outside of their home and demanded to come inside even though they didn’t have a warrant.
“I let them in my house, because who wouldn’t? You got not just handguns, you have rifles, everything pointed at you,” Thompkins said.
And that’s not all, y’all: The suit details several other incidents in which residents were ambushed in their homes or even detained without explanation under the suspicion of being Francis.
Well, where was that guy all this time? Eventually the cops tracked him down after finding that a white woman was the one resident who had the closest connection to him. The suit claims one of her children dated the suspect’s brother who was later prosecuted for helping Francis escape. Despite that tip, the suit claims that white neighbor went unbothered.
The filing accuses the department of violating the Fourth Amendment through unreasonable search and seizure, excessive force and racial discrimination violating the Equal Protection Clause. Plaintiffs also requested an unspecified amount of damages for emotional distress and attorney costs.