HIV-Positive Woman Sues Dearborn For Violating Privacy, Disability Act After Infamous Traffic Stop Caught On Tape

Officer caught berating and humiliating Detroit woman about HIV status

Contact: Heidi Lovy

DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 27, 2014 – Shalandra Jones of Detroit has filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Dearborn after a police officer violated her fundamental right to privacy and her rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act during a traffic stop on Aug. 3, 2012.

It’s a traffic stop that made national headlines in 2012 when a police video emerged. Jones alleges that Officer David Lacey was following Dearborn Police Department policy, “as well as demonstrating his own prejudices,” when he “disclosed aloud” her HIV-positive status, berated and humiliated her and “unreasonably and discriminatorily” detained and charged Jones solely on the basis of her HIV-positive status. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 27 in U.S. District Court in Detroit. Jones is seeking unspecified damages.

“There was indeed a clear lack of education on the part of Mr. Lacey, the Dearborn police officer, but it also is reflective on the lack of education by the Dearborn Police Department,” said Detroit Legal Services President Joshua L. Moore, who is representing Jones in the case. In addition to damages, Jones is requesting an apology from the city of Dearborn, and training for the police officers, Moore said. “Dearborn’s police chief told the media he intended for the police officers to be trained in how to deal with HIV-positive citizens,” Moore said. “However, there is no indication that training took place.”

In September, the city of Dearborn dismissed a misdemeanor marijuana charge against Jones after a year of court battles. During the approximately 30-minute traffic stop, Officer Lacey said he was issuing the pair tickets because he was “aggravated” that Jones had not disclosed her HIV-positive status before he searched the vehicle. The case made national news when a police video was released that captured Lacey repeatedly commenting on his fear of coming into contact with HIV. Jones is, and was at the time of the incident, a qualified medical marijuana patient under Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA). Despite this, Lacey issued a marijuana possession ticket, a police video revealed, to Jones because she failed to disclose her HIV-positive status to him prior to a search of her car.

After hearing she was HIV positive, Lacey told Jones, “You just made me mad!” The officer also told Jones, falsely, that she was required to notify Lacey in advance of her HIV status. He also said he “did not want to take any diseases home to his family”, and that “Dearborn does not have that many people living with HIV, and the police do not like people with HIV.” Lacey told Jones that he only deals with “this kind of people” on the “other end of Dearborn,” and that he was only writing the ticket because she was HIV positive.

Jones’s lawsuit is against the city of Dearborn for violation of her constitutional rights, as well as Lacey’s violations of the American with Disabilities Act.

To view the entire police video, see:

Detroit Legal Services is a sought-after, nationwide expert in HIV/AIDS legal matters. Through its specialized national HIV/AIDS Project, DLS has successfully used its expertise and resources to provide personalized legal services for more than 300 clients to date who have found themselves struggling within the system. The firm, headquartered in Detroit, proudly gives 10 percent of its earnings back to the community via donations to HIV/AIDS nonprofit organizations.

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