Civil rights leaders and several Metro Council members in Louisville, Kentucky, said Thursday they were enraged by a traffic stop in which a black teenager was pulled from his car, frisked and handcuffed last summer after an alleged minor traffic violation.
Councilwoman Jessica Green (D-District 1), who chairs the council’s public safety committee, said she has asked Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad to come before the Metro Council to answer their questions about the traffic stop of Tae-Ahn Lea and the department’s tactic of “hyper-policing” to fight violent crime in the West End, reports Louisville Journal-Courier.
Green said the stop, which has been viewed over a million times on YouTube, shows how Louisville residents are “hunted down because of the color of their skin and where they live.”
Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, said when she watched the video with a group of black parents on spring break, “We found ourselves talking back to the video, holding back tears.”
“We understand the violence, we understand the drugs,” she said. “But one fact remains, many of our children are innocent.
“Police need to find a better way.”
Conrad, who has declined to comment on Lea’s stop, said the stop is the subject of a pending internal-affairs investigation.
Councilman David James (D-6th District), a former police officer, said he doesn’t blame the officers involved in the stop because “they are doing what they are told to do.”
But he said “stops like these are a bad idea. It is morally wrong. It is like going fishing with a big net. There are better ways to fight violence.”
According to the Journal-Courier: “Lea, who had no criminal record, was stopped Aug. 9, 2018, for making a wide turn. Police searched his car after a police canine supposedly alerted on contraband inside it, but no illegal drugs or weapons were found and the traffic citation was later dismissed when neither of the officers who wrote it showed up in court.”
Raoul Cunningham, president of the NAACP Louisville chapter, said, “how this young man was handled was disturbing.”
“We support efforts to reduce violent crime, but what is the price citizens — primarily in west Louisville — must pay? How many stops have been made in other Louisville communities for an alleged illegal turn?”