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'Stop fingering me, bro!': DC settles lawsuit with ice cream vendor who received anal probing from metro police officer

The plaintiff says he was targeted by cops for a weapons search because he is black

Image source: Video screenshot

The city of Washington, D.C., has settled a lawsuit brought by an ice cream vendor who says he was subjected to repeated anal probes by a Metropolitan Police officer looking for weapons. Plaintiff M.B. Cottingham claims he was targeted by law enforcement because he is a black man and believes the cop who searched him should be terminated.

What happened?

Cottingham said that he agreed to be frisked by Officer Sean Lojacono on Sept. 27, 2017, when police approached him and his friends about an open container of alcohol. Instead of the quick pat-down the plaintiff expected, Lojacono reportedly dug his fingers between Cottingham's buttocks, leading Mr. Cottingham to protest.

At that point, the officer placed Cottingham in handcuffs and continues to probe the man's anal area.

"Stop fingering me, though, bro!" Cottingham can be seen telling Lojacono in video footage of the incident. "You're fingering my ass, man!"

No weapons were found in the search, and no one was arrested or charged in the encounter.

According to the ACLU, which represented Cottingham in his suit, "No warrant, probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or consent justified the scope of these probes, which were conducted in broad daylight in public and with no other discernible reason than to humiliate and degrade Mr. Cottingham and to display the officer's power over him."

"The escalation of a low-level stop into a public body-cavity search was an affront to Mr. Cottingham's dignity as well as his constitutional rights," the ACLU added.

The Daily Mail reported that Cottingham said in a separate statement: "The most important thing to me is that Officer Lojacono can't do this to anyone else. I filed this lawsuit because I want policing in D.C. to change."

Anything else?

ACLU-DC legal co-director Scott Michelman told the Mail he thinks the timing of the city's settlement agreement is noteworthy.

"The fact that the settlement was reached on the eve of the District's deadline to disclose information about Officer Lojacono's extensive disciplinary history suggests MPD officials were worried what the documents would show regarding how long they ignored or tolerated his problematic behavior," Michelman said.

In September, MPD announced the officer would be fired, but Lojacono remains on administrative leave while he fights his termination.

One last thing…
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