DES MOINES – Two Des Moines Police officers are being sued after being accused of racial profiling during a traffic stop that occurred last month.
Montray Little, 23 and Jared Clinton, 21 were in a white rental car that was stopped by Des Moines Police officers Kyle Thies and Natalie Heinemann on July 15. They say they were racially profiled because they were accused of having a gun and drugs and the officers never gave a reason as to why they were being pulled over.
“They were stopped. They were searched. They were detained, and they were humiliated,” said Iowa-Nebraska NAACP President Betty Andrews.
Andrews says the stop was an infringement on the men’s civil rights that showed a ‘blatant disregard’ by the two Des Moines Police officers.
Earlier this month, members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement gave Local 5 dash cam video they asked for. They say the video shows a serious problem within the Des Moines Police Department that needs to be addressed.
“My son got to come home, so I’m happy about that, but why are you baiting him? Unless you really thought he had a gun. What could he had done differently?” said Laurel Clinton, the mother of Jared Clinton.
Clinton says this isn’t the first time one of her three sons has been racially profiled by Des Moines Police. When she saw the video she said her heart broke.
“They kept saying to him, ‘We think you have a gun! It’s making us nervous,’ Why? He was in a neutral position once I got the body cam. So my question to them is, how are they supposed to act when you pull them over?” Clinton said.
In the video the male officer tells the men, “Can I be honest with you? It smells like marijuana in the car and I can see shake on the ground and your buddy is giving me the idea that he has a gun.”
Iowa CCI told Local 5 it believes the male officer involved has a history of racial profiling, saying he booked 282 people into the Polk County Jail in 2017 and 50% of those people were black.
“The Des Moines Police Department has a long history of being fair and equitable,” said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek. “I think our mission has always been that we have our heads and our hearts in the right spot. I think the community should be confident that we’re doing the right thing even when they’re not looking.”
The Des Moines Police Department is conducting an internal investigation regarding the incident.