7/3/2019Maryland: Black Federal Cop Sues White Federal Cop Over Traffic Stop
On-duty Secret Service agent claims he was the victim of harassing traffic stop by US Park Police officers in Maryland.
The national capital area is home to several dozen law enforcement agencies, some of which do not get along well with one another. This played out when two US Park Police officers decided to detain a Secret Service agent who was parked on the side of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway on July 11, 2015.
At the time, Secret Service Special Agent Nathaniel Hicks was there as part of the advance detail for then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's motorcade. The Park Police is in charge of running speed traps and traffic stops on the parkway, so Park Police Officer Gerald L. Ferreyra decided to investigate why there was an unmarked 2014 Chevy Impala on the side of the road with its emergency lights active. He approached, with gun drawn after noticing that there was a firearm inside the vehicle.
Agent Hicks informed him that he was on duty with the Secret Service, and he produced his badge and valid credentials. The Park Police officer would not let the agent go, and thirty minutes passed. The motorcade arrived, but Agent Hicks was not allowed to leave and join it. Instead, a Park Police sergeant was called to the scene because Officer Ferreyra was worried about explaining to investigators why he pulled a gun on another federal agent. After another thirty minutes passed, Agent Hicks was finally released. As he drove away, Park Police Officer Brian Allen Phillips followed, eventually hitting his overhead lights and ordering the Secret Service agent to pull over because he allegedly saw the agent talking on a cell phone while driving.
Agent Hicks sued, saying the Park Police officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by detaining him without any reason to suspect a crime had been committed. The court sided with the agent last month, refusing to grant immunity to the officers because they continued to detain the agent long after his credentials had been verified.
"Agent Hicks's vehicle had strobing lights and flashers, lending more credibility to Agent Hicks's credentials (if indeed any more credibility were necessary to confirm that Hicks was a Secret Service agent)," US District Judge Paul W. Grimm wrote in his order. "Officer Phillips became aware that Agent Hicks was an on duty Secret Service agent as soon as he arrived, if not sooner, but also did not inform Agent Hicks that he was free to leave."
The judge pointed out that "a simple Google search" would confirm that Secret Service agents are permitted to carry guns in Maryland, so there was no reasonable explanation for continuing to detain Agent Hicks. The cell phone stop, likewise, was illegal because law enforcement officers are allowed to use cell phones behind the wheel under Maryland law.
In 2009, Officer Ferreyra was arrested for assaulting a taxi driver.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.