Sheriff’s lawsuit closed after 5 years
A U.S. federal judge has closed a five-year-old lawsuit against the Madison County Sheriff’s Department over racial profiling.
Sheriff Randy Tucker told supervisors on Monday that U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves signed off on an order closing the class-action lawsuit filed in 2018 by the ACLU over roadblocks in primarily black areas of the county and an incident at an apartment complex.
“What started off as a mess ended up being a really good tool with the community,” Tucker said. “I want to thank the board, thank our counsel…it’s officially over. We can move on from here.”
“Between May and September 2016, 8% of arrests at roadblocks and 82% of arrests at pedestrian stops in Madison County were of black individuals,” the lawsuit said.
In September 2019, the county settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $160,000 in restitution, with $130,000 going to a couple who recorded officers interrogating them in their apartment following a break-in. The remaining $30,000 was split among four other plaintiffs.
As a result of the settlement, the Sheriff’s Department agreed to end its policy of placing roadblocks on one-way streets and a policy known as “stop and frisk” where deputies detained, questioned or searched individuals without probable cause.
The Sheriff also set up a citizens advisory council with members appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
“We worked with the community and the board our board of supervisors appointed to represent people from across the country,” Tucker told supervisors. “Over a four-year period we did not have a single complaint which is phenomenal.”
Board President Gerald Steen said this showed Tucker’s leadership and is a testament to the county and should be highlighted and documented.
Board Attorney Mike Espy recommended the board issue a commendation to the Sheriff’s Department.
“It’s a really big deal,” Espy said. “It demonstrates to everybody in the state of Mississippi and across the nation how effective our law enforcement is. It’s such a big deal.”