Jury awards family $8.25M for cops’ cuffing, detaining, searching them unjustifiably
Deputies Steven Holland and Monica Pope approached the Loggervales' rented Cadillac outside a Starbucks, informing the mother and two teen girls they were probing car break-ins by unidentified Black men.
A Black family is $8.25 million richer after a California jury decided in their favor following an unlawful search and detention in Castro Valley over three years ago.
The March 1 verdict came after Aasylei Loggervale and her two daughters, Aaottae Loggervale and Aasylei Hardge-Loggervale, then 17 and 19, respectively, were handcuffed and searched by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies outside a Starbucks on Sept. 20, 2019, according to KTVU Fox 2 News.
Jurors determined that Alameda County is responsible for the patrolling deputies’ actions, but one deputy, Steven Holland, was ordered to pay $2.7 million to the mother and $2 million each to her daughters. He and the other deputy, Monica Pope, who is accountable for $750,000 damages to the Loggervale daughters, have both been promoted to sergeant since the incident.
If the county can persuade the judge to do so, he might reduce the award.
The 2019 encounter began when tax preparer Aasylei Loggervale and her daughters sat in their rented Cadillac outside Starbucks after driving from Nevada. The family was en route to Berkeley, where the older daughter had to take a college math test.
Holland and Pope approached the vehicle, informing the mother, who was in the driver’s seat, that they were investigating vehicle break-ins by unidentified Black men. However, according to a police report, San Francisco attorney Craig Peters identified the suspects as one Black man and a Latino man.
Even though the Loggervale matriarch had a clearly visible placard in her car window, the deputies questioned whether it was legal for her to park in a disabled space. She refused to show documentation, enforcing her Fourth Amendment right, which protects people from unreasonable searches.
The initial civil suit claimed the mother didn’t want to further engage with the defendants “because as a Black person,” she was afraid of “serious physical harm or death to her and/or her daughters.”
The deputies handcuffed the women, put them in the back of their police car and searched the trunk of their rented car without ever telling them why they were being detained.
Deputy Keith Leeper, who also arrived at the scene, replied, “I do not,” when the mother told deputies they had to provide a reason for detaining her. They also forbid her from going to the restroom.
Deputies detained the family for roughly 70 minutes before releasing them with no criminal charges.
Aasylei Hardge-Loggervale, who will graduate from UCLA this year, arrived at her statistics exam that day, despite being 40 minutes late.
Although law enforcement didn’t physically harm the women, the hefty award shows the jury believed the deputies violated the family’s constitutional rights due to their skin color.
“I hope [the family] can recover that at some point, but I suspect they won’t,” Peters said, KTVU reported. “I suspect that to some extent for the rest of their life, every time they see police officers, every time they’re in a Starbucks parking lot, they’re going to remember this.”
Peters claims an Internal Affairs investigation determined the deputies didn’t do anything wrong. The attorney said no one in the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office appeared to accept accountability, take the initiative to address the issue early on or acknowledge that they would handle things differently going forward, “which would have been the responsible thing to do.”
“But instead, they kind of doubled down on trying to shade facts to try and make this situation seem not as bad as it was,” Peters noted, KTVU reported, “[to] try to raise some doubt, you know, attacking the women.”
Requests for comment by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office or Kevin Gilbert, the county’s legal representative, went unanswered on Monday. The Loggervales also declined to be interviewed.
An examination of excessive force and wrongful death police settlements found that between 2015 and 2020, Alameda County paid out more than any other law enforcement agency in the Bay Area.
Peters believes the situation would have played out “very differently” if the Loggervale family was white.
“I think that everybody recognizes we all have implicit bias,” Peters said in a Monday interview, KTVU reported. “These officers are no different. And so, subconsciously, there was something going on that made them unreasonably suspicious of this family.”
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