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Officer Alfie G. Acol, with the Laurel Police Department, connects his head mounted-point of view video recording system to the docking station that charges and downloads the video from the unit. A Washington, D.C. man filed a lawsuit Thursday, alleging that Alcol performed an illegal and public strip search during a traffic stop. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Lawsuit alleges public strip search in Laurel

Washington, D.C., man claims he was pulled over because of racial profiling, was not charged

A Washington, D.C. man filed a lawsuit Thursday against a Laurel police officer who he alleges performed an illegal and public strip search during a traffic stop.

Allan Sergeant claims he only was pulled over by Officer Alfie G. Acol because he was black “and driving while wearing his hair in dreadlocks,” according to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.

Acol pulled Sergeant over in front of a CVS in March 2014 and “demanded” Sergeant’s driver’s license and vehicle registration, according to the complaint. Sergeant complied but repeatedly asked what he had done wrong, according to the complaint.

Acol then became “angry and aggressive” and ordered Sergeant to exit his vehicle, at which point he frisked him several times, the lawsuit states. The officer then moved Sergeant so he was in front of the entrance to CVS before performing the strip search, the lawsuit states.

“The ensuing search and stripping was highly intrusive, humiliating, degrading, abusive, terrifying and traumatizing,” the lawsuit states.

Acol ultimately issued Sergeant a warning for a traffic violation, according to the complaint.

Sergeant filed a complaint with the Laurel Police Department the following day; three months later, an investigator found Acol “in violation of department policies,” according to the complaint.

But instead of firing Acol, the police department made him “the public face” of its campaign regarding the use of police body cameras, according to the complaint. Acol also won an award for meritorious service, according to the complaint.

“The failure to terminate Acol, indeed the subsequent issuance of an award to him, evidences the ratification and institutionalized acceptance of this gross misconduct by the LPD,” the lawsuit states.

Sergeant’s complaint also names the city of Laurel and the police department as defendants. Audrey Barnes, a spokeswoman for both, confirmed the internal investigation of the incident but declined to comment further on a “personnel matter.”

Sergeant is represented by lawyers with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, also based in Washington, D.C. He is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the implementation of training protocols to prevent future, similar incidents.

The case is Allan R. Sergeant v. Alfie G. Acol, et al., 8:15-cv-02233-PWG.