In yet another report of a black person being “mistakenly” identified and arrested, a North Carolina man filed a civil rights complaint against the Raleigh Police Department.
Rashon McNeil filed the complaint Monday with the United States Department of Justice, alleging bias and mistreatment by police during a 2016 arrest that turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
McNeil says that police stopped him on East Martin Street on December 1, 2016 and accused him of being a man named "Lamar" whom they were seeking.
Despite McNeil informing officers that he was not Lamar, the cops ignored his protests and threw him to the ground, roughing him up and arresting him.
The encounter was captured on cell phone video and shared to social media, which shows that at no point did officers bother to check McNeil’s identification.
And even after they booked and fingerprinted him, they still kept him in jail. He was subsequently charged with trespassing, delaying or obstructing an officer, and resisting arrest even though he wasn’t the person police sought.
In a news release, Save Our Sons of Raleigh and Raleigh PACT said two white officers arrested McNeil, who is black, believing that his name was Lamar — a suspect in a case — without asking his name or confirming his identity. A video on PACT’s Web site shows McNeil wrestled to the ground shouting, “My name is not Lamar.”
“I complied with all conduct of what officers was asking. I complied with it to the point where I was cuffed, slammed on the ground and still was not even acknowledged of who I really was,” McNeil said Monday at a press conference in front of city hall.
A Wake County judge later dismissed all the charges against McNeil.
“They didn’t treat me like a human being, and what’s worse is that I’ve come to expect this from Raleigh PD,” McNeil said in the release. “That wasn’t my first unjust encounter with police, and it wasn’t the last.”
McNeil filed a complaint with the police department over the officers’ actions, but an internal investigation found no officer misconduct.
Not finding his justice locally, he wants the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the case.
Save Our Sons, founded in 2004 following the shooting death of 24-year-old Akiel Denkins in Southeast Raleigh in 2016, filed a complaint with the Raleigh Police Department’s internal affairs division. In March, a judge found the claim “unsustained”.
“I’m not surprised that a department that polices itself decided that there was no wrongdoing,” said Kimberly Muktarian, president of Save Our Sons. “We have a problem in this country and in Raleigh where we expect an internal department to hold police accountable when we deserve impartial community oversight.”
The local media brought up McNeil’s past run-ins with the law, in particular mentioning his conviction in 2009 of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was initially charged with murder in connection with the incident but the charge was later dropped. He served six years in prison for the attempted robbery.
He said his criminal record has nothing to do with his wrongful arrest in 2016.
But if the media is able to determine his identity and bring up his past criminal history, how is that police officers were not able to correctly identify him? McNeil was already in their database.
The police department declined to comment on the complaint but the head of the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, John Midgette, said that officers make mistakes and that a mistaken arrest does not constitute a federal investigation.
“Officers making mistakes in the course of doing their duties does not constitute abuse of power,” Midgette said. “I believe this is a national trend, or people are reinventing the law.”
Simply put, if McNeil is no stranger to the law than why couldn’t the law properly ID him?