Civil Case Moves Forward for HIV-Positive Woman Discriminated Against by Dearborn, Mich. Police

Contact: Heidi Lovy

DEARBORN, Mich., April 29, 2015 – Oral arguments for the HIV discrimination lawsuit that garnered attention across the country, Jones vs. the City of Dearborn and David Lacey, will be heard at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 4 in front of U.S. District Judge Laurie Michelson.

Shalandra Jones of Detroit filed a civil lawsuit in January 2014 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 in 2012.

It’s a traffic stop that captured the nation’s attention 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.

“This is a clear-cut case of discrimination,” said Detroit Legal Services President Joshua L. Moore, who is representing Jones in the case. “Officer Lacey violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when he treated Ms. Jones differently than he would have if she were HIV negative.”

Last year, the city of Dearborn dismissed a misdemeanor marijuana charge against Jones after lengthy court battles. During the approximately 30-minute traffic stop, Officer Lacey said he was issuing Jones a ticket 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.

View the entire police video here.

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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