Two men have accused Charlotte-Mecklenburg police of assault, kidnapping and civil rights violations by subjecting them to seven illegal searches last year at a west Charlotte motel, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The lawsuit claims officers led one of the men into a room at the Rodeway Inn on Brookshire Boulevard and forced him to strip for a cavity search for cocaine.
No drugs were found, the suit alleges. Police made no arrests and had no search warrants, but aggressively frisked Jeramie Barideaux and Jonathan Harris against their will, the suit says.
Barideaux and Harris say they were sitting in a car outside the Rodeway Inn last April so they could listen to music from a local performer and discuss future collaboration.
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Shortly after 10 p.m., the suit says, CMPD Officer Michael Wallin parked his cruiser in front of Barideaux’s car. Sgt. John Gorrod and Officer Michael Bodenstein soon arrived. Wallin told Barideaux he wanted to search his car, the suit says. Barideaux refused, saying he had done nothing wrong.
According to the lawsuit, Wallin ordered Barideaux out of the car and began aggressively searching him.
Bodenstein soon frisked Harris, including “aggressively searching (his) genitalia and buttocks,” then asking Harris why he appeared nervous, the suit says. The officer told Harris that he believed he was hiding crack cocaine in his anus. He allegedly searched Harris two more times. Harris was then led into a hotel room where he had to strip, the lawsuit claims.
Afterward, Harris was allowed to dress. Bodenstein told them, “You boys can go home now,” the suit says.
The lawsuit filed by Charlotte attorney Morris McAdoo names the officers, CMPD, former police Chief Rodney Monroe and the city of Charlotte as defendants. It alleges unlawful search and seizure, assault, kidnapping and negligence.
McAdoo said the lawsuit is designed “to bring justice for these young men by revealing the details of this painful night.”
Police attorney Mark Newbold said Tuesday that he hadn’t seen the complaint. “Once we have, we’ll respond to the allegations,” he said.
The incident occurred four days after an Observer story that showed black motorists in Charlotte are stopped and searched far more frequently than white counterparts. In that story, Monroe said CMPD used traffic control as a crime-fighting tool in affected neighborhoods.
In July 2011, Barideaux was pulled over by Rochester, N.Y., police officers who said he did not come to a complete stop at an intersection. They charged him with drugs and a handgun violation. He spent four months in custody before a judge ordered his release after a surveillance video showed Barideaux fully stopping.
Barideaux sued. Court records indicate he settled the case for $75,000 in December 2014.
He later moved to Charlotte. Last September, Barideaux was charged with misdemeanor assault on a female, but the case was later dropped.