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Man claims Tempe police guilty of racial profiling, files lawsuit against city

PHOENIX — An Arizona man indicated Monday he intends to sue the Tempe Police Department for alleged racial profiling and civil rights violations.

During a press conference, Anderson Jean-Louis announced he intends to file a notice of claim, a pre-cursor to a lawsuit, following an incident with police earlier this year. He has also requested the resignation of Police Chief Tom Ryff and the officers involved in the incident.

On Feb. 13, members of the Tempe police bike patrol stopped Jean-Louis on Mill Avenue because they believed the music from his car was excessively loud — a ticketable offense.

“When I got stopped I thought that it was going to be maybe just for the music but it was more than that, I was placed in handcuffs for recording,” Jean-Louis said.

During the stop, Jean-Louis was asked to provide identification to the officer. Police reports show he refused several times before providing his ID and was not complying with the officer’s requests.

Eventually, officers asked the man to exit his vehicle and sit on the curb. During that time, Jean-Louis, who is black, began recording the officer with his cell phone. The officers apparently asked him to stop for safety reasons and later confiscated the phone.

Jean-Louis then used a second cell phone to begin recording the officer and that phone was knocked out of his hands and confiscated as well.

“I was placed in handcuffs for no reason, for recording so if recording someone or an officer is a crime than I don’t know what to tell you at this point,” he said.

Police reports state officers placed Jean-Louis under arrest because he allegedly refused to sign the criminal citation being issued. The charges were failure to provide ID, delay and obstruct and sound amplification greater than 50 feet.

Jean-Louis said Monday he believes he was targeted by officers because of his race. Tempe Police Lt. Mike Pooley said the department takes the allegations seriously and the incident is under investigation.

“One of the things that we are looking at is how could this have been done better and how could our officers have done something differently which would have caused us not to be here,” Pooley said.

Pooley also stated he believes both parties may be culpable in the incident. He said the department must be limited in response to the allegations due to pending litigation, ongoing criminal proceedings and pending personnel action.

“Our officers, if they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing, then they are going to be held accountable,” he said. “We are here to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.”

In a statement, Tempe Police reiterated its commitment to prioritizing race relations and ensured that all officers receive extensive diversity training.