Parish: Jefferson

Police Department(s):

  • Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office; and
  • East Jefferson Levee District Police Department.

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, alongside Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, L.L.C. and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati P.C., represented Alexis Suggs in a civil rights action against various police officers from the East Jefferson Levee District Police Department and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Mrs. Suggs’s complaint described how, on the evening of July 18, 2020, as she was driving with her then-fiancé to Pizza Hut on a date, she was pulled over for “failing to signal a turn” despite traveling on a straight road for nearly half a mile.  Mrs. Suggs was not told why she was pulled over nor asked for her license or registration initially; instead, police officers shined flashlights into the windows of her car and questioned her about drugs, weapons, and why she was in the area.  Mrs. Suggs informed the officers she had a legally registered gun in her purse.  The officers then proceeded to engage in an unlawful search of Mrs. Suggs’s purse.

The police officers asked for Mrs. Suggs’s driver’s license and other paperwork.  The officers did not return to Mrs. Suggs her Georgia driver’s license or the bullets that had been removed from her gun.  During the incident, Mrs. Suggs asked if she was pulled over because of her race as a Black American, to which one of the officers replied, “I don’t want to hear that; all you are saying is that lately.”  The police officers detained Mrs. Suggs for 40 to 45 minutes without any warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. 

As a result of the officers’ unreasonable stop, impermissible extension of the stop, illegal purse search, and unlawful seizure of Mrs. Suggs’s private property, Mrs. Suggs now avoids the area of Metairie, Louisiana, out of fear of repeated similar racial profiling and a desire to avoid being reminded of the mental and emotional trauma. 

In June 2023, the parties reached a settlement, and the case was dismissed.

The defendants in this case were: 

  • Alex Mikkelsen (Police officer at East Jefferson Levee District Police Department)
  • Jonathan Downing (Police officer at East Jefferson Levee District Police Department)
  • Michael John Naccari III (Deputy sheriff at Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office)
  • Kerry Najolia (Superintendent of Police at East Jefferson Levee District Police Department)
  • Joseph P. Lopinto III (Sheriff at Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office)

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