Woman Jailed For Asking ‘Why’ Files Suit Against APD, Officers

Rhonda Cook, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 2, 2010

A woman jailed for 10 hours after she challenged the authority of a policeman has filed suit in federal court against the officers and the Atlanta Police Department, claiming they violated her civil rights, used excessive force on her and subjected her to emotional distress.

The suit said the officers were acting “upon racial prejudices accumulated and fostered” by APD when they arrested Minnie Carey, who was 61 at the time, for disorderly conduct after she asked “why” she had to move from where she was standing on a sidewalk talking to friends.

The suit says the officers’ agenda in ordering her to move and the arresting her was to “demonstrate power and control and [to] strike fear into citizens of this low income, predominately black neighborhood.”

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Carey, now 62, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Officer Brandy Dolson and his partner drove up in their patrol car and told the women to move. Carey’s friends walked off, but she didn’t. Instead, Carey asked “why” and Dolson responded, “because I said so.”

Carey said she was then handcuffed and taken to the Atlanta jail on a charge of disorderly conduct. She was kept in jail almost 10 hours, according to the suit.

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The Citizen Review Board, which investigates allegations of Atlanta police misconduct, already has found that Dolson acted improperly in the incident. Board members put off recommending a punishment until they have reviewed details of previous citizen complaints against Dolson.

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“Atlanta police have been known to target and abuse blacks, without reason, in this low income neighborhood, resulting in extreme fear of the police by its residents,” the lawsuit said.

Dolson and his partner–Jamie Nelson, who also is named in the suit–are African-American.

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At the same time, the lawsuit says, the city does not discourage street officers from targeting the poor or minorities, and APD does not give officers proper training.

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The suit said the officers violated Carey’s Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure, denied her liberty and violated her right to be free from racial discrimination.

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