SFPD Officer Sues SFPD Chief Suhr For Alleged Racial Profiling Traffic Stop Tackle

A San Francisco police officer who claims he was racially profiled has sued the city and several fellow officers in federal court for allegedly choking him and tackling him to the ground during a traffic stop in May.

Lorenzo Adamson, 43, filed the civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oakland on Tuesday against the city of San Francisco, Police Chief Greg Suhr and Officers Brian Stansbury, Daniel Dudley and Christopher O’Brien.

Adamson, an officer at the Bayview police station, was on disability leave because of a back injury at the time of the stop in the Bayview District at about 8:20 p.m. on May 30.

Adamson says in the lawsuit that he was pulled over because the license plate on his Honda Accord was not visible. Instead of asking him for his license and registration, the lawsuit alleges, Stansbury asked him whether he was on parole or probation.

As Adamson, who is black, got out of his car and tried to explain that he was a police officer on disability leave, Dudley allegedly began applying a chokehold on him and tackled him to the ground, the lawsuit claims.

The officers allegedly then grabbed Adamson’s police gun, handcuffed him, and held him face-down on the ground until backup officers arrived and identified him as a member of the police force, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges that the officers’ treatment caused Adamson severe pain and aggravated his back injury. He remains on leave.

Adamson’s attorney, John Burris, said shortly after the incident that Adamson had his license plate inside his car but that it wasn’t visible because he had problems mounting it.

Adamson was initially charged with resisting arrest and not displaying a license plate, but all charges were later dropped by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit includes federal constitutional claims of use of excessive force and violation of the right to equal treatment, as well as state law claims of racial profiling and assault and battery.

It seeks unspecified financial compensation for lost pay, medical expenses and emotional distress as well as punitive damages for the officers’ alleged “malicious, wanton and oppressive” conduct.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, said today, “Our litigation team is reviewing the case. It would be premature for us to comment substantively.”

The case was assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu of Oakland. A case management conference is scheduled in her court for Feb. 12.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

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