The Maneater

Judge dismisses police department civil rights lawsuit

If the appeal is denied, the case could go to Supreme Court.

A federal civil rights lawsuit against the Columbia Police Department was dismissed earlier this month when a Western District judge granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

On Friday, local Columbia attorney Stephen Wyse filed a motion with the court, asking it to reconsider its judgment. If this motion is denied, Wyse said he will appeal to the Eighth Circuit. Wyse said if this decision stands, it will give the police immunity to do this again.

"We will take (the case) to the Supreme Court," Wyse said.

The two plaintiffs, Josh Williams and Phillip Porter, sued three CPD officers and the City of Columbia for a violation of their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights during a traffic stop in Cosmo Park. Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that Williams and Porter were detained following a traffic stop in Cosmo Park.

Wyse said he thinks it's outrageous that the judge said they were not arrested. He said his clients had guns pointed at their heads and were yanked from the car. Williams was then held for an hour and Porter was released after 30 minutes.

The case also accused the officers of racial profiling. When the lawsuit was filed in 2011, Williams and Porter said they believed the incident was racially motivated, according to a previous Maneater article.

"It's two black men sitting in a park listening to music," Wyse said.

In the 25-page decision handed down by Laughrey, she said the plaintiffs failed to prove that excessive force was used and they also failed to prove the incident was racially motivated. She also ruled the incident was a traffic stop, so the search was justified.

"I know the judge is wrong," Wyse said.

Wyse's petition to the court claims that the courts erred in viewing the facts in the most favorable light for the plaintiffs or the non-moving party. Wyse said the court ignored important facts and Laughery cannot do that.

Officers stopped the parked vehicle at about noon that day because it was diagonally parked across two lines, and they suspected suspicious activity.

"They had no reason to believe my clients were engaged in criminal activity," Wyse said.

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