A pair of Idaho State University football players filed a false arrest lawsuit Wednesday against Utah and Idaho police departments for a 2016 bank robbery arrest.

Nehemiah McFarlin and Atoa Fox were driving through Idaho and Utah in 2016 on their way to California for Christmas break, the Standard-Examiner reports. The white Chevrolet Camaro slid off the road on Interstate 15 due to icy conditions, and they awaited AAA for assistance.

A driver passing by the two reportedly called the Boxer Elder County Sheriff's Department. 

They reportedly fit the description of bank robbers in the state. Reports described the robber as a Black man, wearing a hoodie and driving a Toyota. However, only the race matched the robber and the victims.

Two Utah state troopers engaged the two men on the side of the road on December 14, 2016, reports the Idaho State Journal. Their weapons were drawn, and the pair was arrested on suspicion of robbing a bank earlier that day and held in the Box Elder County Jail in Brigham City.

“Other than being ‘Black,’ neither McFarlin nor Fox matched the description of the robbery participant,” attorneys for the two said in a U.S. District Court suit filed this week.

Authorities let them go because they did not have enough to hold them. The suit alleges the Box Elder and Oneida County Sheriff’s Office involved racially profiled, harassed and arrested them on false grounds.   

“They were absolutely racially profiled,” Nika Fox told the State Journal in 2016. “If it was two white kids sitting on the side of the road, (the police) would’ve called for backup and assistance to help them. … They would’ve made sure they were OK. My son doesn’t deserve to have to walk out in these cities and worry about the color of his skin. … Everything is not going to be OK because they have to figure out how to get over this hurdle, how to overcome this struggle. I raised my son to not think the world is wicked, but sometimes the world is wicked.”

A few weeks after their arrest, a man identified as Dakota Shareef Walker was arrested for robberies in Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas and Missouri. An estimated $30,000 was stolen.

“The defendants ignored obvious and compelling information and evidence and participated in conjuring up information and evidence that was inaccurate, unreliable, untrustworthy and untrue in order to continue their arrest and seizure of McFarlin and Fox,” the suit said.

McFarlin still remains on the football team. Fox, however, is no longer a member. 

The two are seeking $10,000 in damages.


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