Northern California Record

Monday, November 18, 2019

Black man alleges Bakersfield police officers arrested him without probable cause

By Louie Torres | Feb 8, 2018

General court 09

SACRAMENTO – A Bakersfield man alleges he was unlawfully arrested by members of the city's police department during a traffic stop.

Robert Mitchell filed a complaint on Jan. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against Ronnie Jeffries, John Bishop, Fnu Sherman and the city of Bakersfield citing the Fourth and First Amendments.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that on March 17, 2017, he was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped by Bakersfield Police officers Jeffries and Bishop over alleged vehicle code violations. The plaintiff alleges the stop was "a racially discriminatory pretexual stop" because all of the car's occupants were black.

The plaintiff alleges he declined to identify himself because of his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights and filmed the interaction on his cellphone. He was later arrested by the Jeffries and Bishop and jailed overnight for 12 hours before he was released, the suit states. The suit states no criminal charges were ever filed against the plaintiff.

The plaintiff holds Jeffries, Bishop, Sherman and the city of Bakersfield responsible because the defendants allegedly subjected him to unreasonable seizure, arrested him without a warrant or probable cause and unlawfully retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment right to speak.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks compensatory and punitive damages, interest, court costs and any further relief the court grants. He is represented by Peter Bibring and Adrienna Wong of ACLU Foundation of Southern California in Los Angeles and Novella Coleman and Linda Lye of ACLU Foundation of Northern California in San Francisco.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California case number 1:18-at-00069

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of CaliforniaCity of Bakersfield