White v. Sacramento Police Department

Disability Law United, along with co-counsel Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, brought a case against the City of Sacramento and Sacramento Police Department for their use of discriminatory and violent tactics toward racial justice protesters. In the days and weeks following George Floyd’s murder, protests against police violence and for police accountability erupted in Sacramento. In response, the Sacramento Police Department used disproportionate and illegal force against racial justice protesters, quelling free speech and perpetrating physical, psychological, and emotional harm.

Sacramento Police Department continued its pattern of abuse during the January 2021 insurgent protests at the state capital when they allowed white supremacists and pro-police groups to demonstrate unharmed, while brutalizing Sacramento residents who showed up in support of Black Lives and against racist violence.

Our plaintiffs’ stories demonstrate the pattern of racist and violent actions carried out by Sacramento Police Department. Plaintiff Jeronimo Aguilar’s home was raided months after participating in the May 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in Sacramento. Sixty Sacramento Police Department officers — including SWAT units in tactical gear, gang units, and investigators — forced him to exit his home at gunpoint. He, his pregnant wife, and his elderly parents were all handcuffed in zip ties while officers ransacked their personal belongings. Plaintiff Lyric Nash routinely experienced violence, harassment and threats from Sacramento Police Department while attending protests. Additionally, she was the subject of surveillance which ultimately culminated in Sacramento Police Department pulling her and her friends over, forcing them to exit their car at gunpoint, and detaining them while the car was searched. Plaintiffs Loren Wayne Kidd, Nicollette Jones and Odette Zapata were all victimized by Sacramento Police Department and white supremacists when attending counter-protests to shield their community from violence.

In December 2021, Disability Law United and co-counsel filed a complaint under the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments against the Sacramento Police Department and the City of Sacramento. The complaint alleges viewpoint discrimination and retaliation against anti-police brutality speech, excessive force, and a failure to provide equal protection to racial justice protesters. Disability Law United and co-counsel are currently waiting to receive the Sacramento Police Department and the City of Sacramento’s response to the allegations made in the complaint.

Through this case, Disability Law United is working to ensure that racial justice protesters are not victimized by the very institutions which are meant to protect and serve them. In pursuit of this goal, we are working in the spirit of movement and racial justice lawyering to center the voices of community members and Black people in particular.  The litigation team works closely with our clients, partners and allies to avoid re-traumatizing practices, create safe spaces for clients and community involvement, and support the creation of a public historical record of police brutality in Sacramento.

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