Arkansas Man Detained For An Hour While Police Baselessly Searched His U-Haul, Now He's Suing
The trooper said he saw Humphrey "nearly wreck" the U-Haul going off Exit 70 on I-40.
March 14, 2021 at 3:30 pm
Marion Humphrey Jr., a Black man who was stopped by an Arkansas state trooper while driving a U-Haul last year is now suing the state trooper who handcuffed and detained him for over an hour in the back of a police car while officers searched his vehicle with no valid legal basis.
According to 5News, Arkansas state trooper Steven Payton stopped the 32-year-old student on I-40 near Russellville while he was moving his belongings from Fayetteville to his hometown of Little Rock, where he was forced to return to after the coronavirus pandemic caused in-personal classes to be canceled.
During the stop, captured on dashcam, the trooper said he saw Humphrey "nearly wreck" the U-Haul going off Exit 70 on I-40. The officer also followed up with a series of questions, asking the student about when he rented the vehicle and interrogating him about his plans to return it.
Payton continued to press the U-Haul driver, saying "I'm trying to figure out why you're so nervous." Officers then searched the back of the vehicle but failed to find anything illegal. Humphrey called his father during his detaining.
"He's arresting me. Daddy's he's arresting me," the young man said to his father, who's an attorney. "There is nothing in that vehicle. I promise you. I didn't do anything."
Payton eventually released the driver and issued him a warning for careless driving. The University of Arkansas law student, now suing for emotional and punitive damages, said the trooper violated his fourth and 14th Amendment rights.
The plaintiff's attorney, Connor Eldridge, described the stop as illegal, unconstitutional and an act of racism.
“This officer, Trooper Steven Payton, that we have sued, made up his mind that because Marion was Black and because he was driving a U-Haul. I guess that means there must be drugs in that vehicle and that is racist policing, plain and simple,” Eldridge said according to KNWA.
Payton was also sued at his previous job in 2013, accused of using excessive force while working as an officer in Dover, Arkansas, ACLU Arkansas reported.
Arkansas State Police provided a brief comment after the latest incident.
"State police commanders have not seen a copy of the lawsuit and we will not be making public statements about the case while there is pending litigation," Bill Sadler, ASP Public Information Officers, said in a statement.
The Stanford Open Policing Project, which examined almost 100 million traffic stops across the country from 2011 to 2017, concluded that police frequently stopped and searched Black and Latinx drivers based on less evidence than used in stopping white drivers. As Blavity previously reported, the study determined that white drivers are searched less often, but more likely to be found with illegal items.