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Sober man claims DUI charge about 'driving while black'

We like to think that such things don't happen in our time. But if we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that they do. It doesn't matter if you live in Tennessee or some other state, sometimes it becomes clear that race is a deciding factor in the nature of an encounter with the police.

There's a story like this making its way around the Internet right now. It involves a 64-year-old retired firefighter. He happens to be black. And it seems, based on his story and the history that preceded it, that the police in the town of Surprise, Arizona, just have it in for him. Now, he's made it known he intends to sue on a claim that he's been the victim of racial profiling.

The details are these. The former Ohio resident was pulled over last December by an officer who claimed the man had crossed over a divider line for his lane. The official report says that the officer noticed that the man had bloodshot eyes. The man explained that he had just been swimming at a nearby gym, but the officer said he believed him to be driving under the influence.

The man was subjected to a field sobriety test. He warned the officer that he might not pass because of bad knees and a bad hip (records show he was scheduled for hip replacement surgery two days later), but the test was conducted anyway and he was hauled in. A breath test showed his blood alcohol level to be zero. A subsequent blood test confirmed that.

Despite all available evidence, police then called in a department drug recognition expert. Once again, the man was found to be fine. The official's report says there was no sign of impairment. Eventually all charges were dropped, but not before the man spent about $5,000 on fees to his attorney and to get his car back.

The victim in this case notes that he has been stopped on 10 other occasions by Surprise police over four years and has received four tickets. He says he hopes his suit will hold the officers responsible accountable and prevent others who face the same situation from feeling helpless.

The city's police chief has refused to comment on the case, except to say there are two sides to the story. He asks the public to keep an open mind.

Source: AZCentral.com, "Surprise man seeks $500K, alleges racial profiling in DUI case," Jen Lebron Kuhney, The Repbulic, June 13, 2013

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