While discussing his birthday plans with friends, two D.C. police cars pulled up and asked M.B. Cottingham and his friends if they had any weapons on them. The group replied no, and, to avoid further confrontation, Cottingham offered the information that he was carrying a legal amount of marijuana in his sock and pulled it out. Officers handcuffed and searched Cottingham in what would turn out to be an anus probe and invasive feel around his genitals, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims.
In a video released of the incident, the officer in question, Sean Lojacono, felt up Cottingham’s legs and pushed his fingers into his buttocks.
“Stop fingering me though, bruh,” Cottingham said in the video. “You’re fingering my a**, man.”
“I’m outside your pants,” Lojacono replied. “Relax.”
“Don’t emasculate me like that; I’m a man, bro,” Cottingham continued after further probing.
After finishing his inspection, the officer uncuffed Cottingham. Before leaving, Lajacono shouted, “How y'all doin’, World Star?” knowing someone was recording.
According to the ACLU, the pat-down was in direct violation of Cottingham’s Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizures.
“When a routine frisk turns into a search this invasive, the officer is not pursuing a legitimate law enforcement purpose but simply degrading someone and assisting his own power,” ACLU staff attorney Scott Michelman, who is representing Cottingham, said.
D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department Chief Peter Newsham commented on the video during a council hearing, saying Lojacono did, in fact, touch Cottingham inappropriately, the New York Post reports.
Cottingham is currently suing the officer for his actions, citing depression, anxiety and a fear of going out in public.
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