Director Of Liberian National Security Agency Sues NJ State Police For Racial Profiling

Director Of Liberian National Security Agency Sues NJ State Police For Racial Profiling

Fombah Teh Sirleaf, the current director of Liberia’s National Security Agency and stepson of the President of Liberia, is moving forward with a lawsuit against New Jersey State Police for racial profiling, selective enforcement, and false imprisonment.

Both Sirleaf and his friend Stanley Summerville are each suing for $250,000 from the state after being handcuffed and detained in October 2014 by the New Jersey State Police Gangs and Organized Crime Central Unit.

The lawsuit was filed after the two were cuffed after New Jersey State Police officers were detained a drug dealer in the same parking lot where Sirleaf and Summerville were loading their vehicle with suitcases.

According to allegations made by Sirleaf, he and his friend were racially profiled and illegally detained during the event, saying the only thing they had in common with the drug suspect was their skin color.

The event surrounding the lawsuit took place on October 4th, 2014, when Stanley Summerville and Fombah Sirleaf were leaving The Mills outlet mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

After shopping in the mall for suitcases that would be used to carry things he bought in America back to his home country of Liberia, the two plaintiffs were loading them in the back of their high-end vehicle when New Jersey troopers surrounded a white Lexus nearby.

The special crime unit of New Jersey was arresting alleged drug trafficker Richard Parker of Newark, New Jersey, who was on parole at the time after being convicted of aggravated manslaughter.

After receiving a tip that Parker was a heroin source distributing drugs throughout New Jersey, troopers had Parker under surveillance. When a hand-to-hand tradeoff was made, State Police apprehended the suspect and found $1,400 in cash in his vehicle as well as a large cache of heroin. Parker is back in prison for violating his parole.

During the arrest of Parker, Detective Sergeant Michael Gregory noticed that there were two men—Sirleaf and Summerville—across from Parker’s vehicle who were “manipulating” a suitcase.

According to Det. Sgt. Gregory, heroin traffickers often use lookouts when drug deals are being conducted and upon noticing Sirleaf and Summerville with large suitcases, he had his surveillance team determine if the two plaintiffs had any involvement with Parker.

According to the report by Gregory, when troopers approached Sirleaf, Sirleaf moved his hands downward toward his waistband and turned away from the troopers. At that point, troopers instructed the Liberian and his friend to get on the ground.

Sirleaf did as instructed.  According to Jeffrey Gauthier, Summerville did not comply with commands by the troopers and was brought to the ground.

After consent had been given by Summerville, the New Jersey troopers conducted a search of the suitcases and found no contraband but did find a “voluminous amounts” of over-the-counter medication.

After security footage from the mall was viewed, the New Jersey troopers released Summerville and Sirleaf without any charges, as the footage revealed that neither had any contact with Parker and were only shopping.

Sirleaf, who has cooperated in sting operations conducted by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, claims that the only reason he and his friend were detained and questioned were because they were black.

In a statement given to NJ Advance Media, Sirleaf said that he and Summerville were farther away from the vehicle than troopers claim and that the police officers passed up white shoppers who were closer to the scene of Parker’s arrest.

The plaintiffs claim that they saw the commotion happening during the arrest but simply turned away and focused on loading up their suitcases and mind their own business when troopers ran toward them with guns drawn, illegally detaining them because of their skin color.

The plaintiffs filed a complaint with internal affairs and an investigation was conducted. During the investigation, the internal probe cleared the troopers and did not find any violations of divisional standard or state law.

Editor Note:  This case is another sad example of the courts taking out the common sense that we rely our law enforcement to have.  While it is true the subjects were black, it is also true that it is awful strange to see two men loading a bunch of suitcases in the back of a car at a shopping center.  The officers properly investigated it and then let them go.

The lawsuit is convenient but what if the story was different?  What if there was contraband in the suitcases?  What if it was something worse and what if law enforcement ignored it or stayed away?

What if law enforcement stays away because the subjects are black even though anyone with common sense knows that it is not exactly normal to do what these guys did?

Isn’t that what many want?  To take the common sense out of law enforcement?

What do you think?

About The Author

mm

Law Officer is the only major law enforcement publication and website owned and operated by law enforcement. This unique facet makes Law Officer much more than just a publishing company but is a true advocate for the profession.

7 Comments

  1. jim heffner

    Why is it that every time a person of color is involved in what is really a human rights issue people try to make it an issue of race? When white people’s dogs are shot and infants are terrorized it’s on page 3 but when police doing their usual thing do the same to people of different color or ethnicity do it, it’s a race issue? Let’s keep it focused on the big picture. When police abuse authority all cases should be treated as human rights violations and maybe we can get our public servants back on track to serve and protect the innocent before they go all stops out after the suspected criminals.
    Any body ever heard of Sir Robert Peel’s Principles of 1829?
    Peelian Principle 1 – “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

    Peelian Principle 2 – “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”

    Peelian Principle 3 – “Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”

    Peelian Principle 4 – “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”

    Peelian Principle 5 – “Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”

    Peelian Principle 6 – “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”

    Peelian Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

    Peelian Principle 8 – “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”

    Peelian Principle 9 – “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

  2. roger

    How is it stranger for two subjects to load suitcases outside a shopping center, are you kidding me? Am I understanding your reasoning well, Editor?

    • mm

      Do you often see men loading up a bunch of suitcases in the back of a car? I’ve never seen that and if i did I would think it was odd at best. So tell me where the officers went wrong? They went and investigated fully and then let them go. It happens every day in every city, It is how law enforcement does their job. They investigate things that look suspicious and make decisions on whether a crime has been committed. Legally, it’s called “reasonable suspicion.” Maybe you don’t think loading up a bunch of suitcases in a car is suspicious but I certainly do.

      • Roger

        Well editor, I guess the shopping mall where these men were shouldn’t be selling suitcases then. I mean what do you expect these men to do with those suitcases after the purchase, leave them behind? I guess you’re trying to say it is suspicious on a shopping center parking lot but not at the airport? I never questioned state police action, I questioned your reaction. I know Police has to investigate, Im do Police work too. But would you have had the same reaction on here if two white men in a high class vehicle were doing the same thing? I highly doubt it. And that’s the problem! Be safe.

        • mm

          Actually the problem is you thinking race has anything to do with it. I’ll ask the question again. Have you ever seen two men loading a bunch of suitcases in the back of a car…any type of car?

    • Roger

      Well editor, I guess the shopping mall where these men were shouldn’t be selling suitcases then. I mean what do you expect these men to do with those suitcases after the purchase, leave them behind? I guess you’re trying to say it is suspicious on a shopping center parking lot but not at the airport? I never questioned state police action, I questioned your reaction. I know Police has to investigate, Im do Police work too. But would you have had the same reaction on here if two white men in a high class vehicle were doing the same thing? I highly doubt it. And that’s the problem! Be safe.

      • mm

        I’ve been accused of just about everything in my two decades of police work and decade of writing so I have thick skin, but I can’t win your argument if your default, not knowing me or my character is that I am a racist.

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