Lawsuit filed against MPD for invasive pat-down

by: Greg Coy Updated:

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The Memphis Police Department being sued over how their officers stop and searched a man thought to have drugs in 2015. 

The lawsuit comes just weeks after Police Director Rallings defended the actions in another case before the Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board. 

The case from 2015 happened in a hotel parking lot, a Memphis man claims he was waiting to pick up his uncle when officers with the organized crime unit approached with rifles pointed at him and used racial slurs.

What happened next left Bernard Rushing so traumatized he filed a federal law suit. 

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According to the court document, the officers asked him, "where the dope at? Where the dope a?"     

Officers search his body, "his groin ... for drugs and other contraband." 

The lawsuit said officers found nothing and did not charge Rushing with any crime.

"It seems as if they went way too far.  You can search someone in a respectful way without as far as the language in that document goes," said Citizen Law Enforcement Review Board member John Marek.

FOX13 showed Marek a copy of the lawsuit because Director Rallings refused to discipline officers in another case for aggressively patting down a man named James Bolden, falsely accused of burglary back in 2011. 

Director Rallings wrote "MPD policies and procedure do not prohibit pat downs of a subject's genital area."  The purpose is to determine whether the individual is armed." 

Marek told FOX13 "Maybe if he didn't want to go with our disciplinary recommendations that fine but I think our training recommendations should have been respected and this is a perfect example of why."

Marek said both cases the need for more discipline and better training officers.

"We could address these types of issues and make sure officers get the proper type of training so we can avoid these type of things in the future," Marek told FOX13.

FOX!3 reached out to the city for comment, however, they said there will be "no further comments until after the case is settled."