Hiruy Amanuel was trying to give his brother a ride home to ensure that he got there safely after having a few drinks. This was not a lone act of benevolence on Mr. Amanuel's part? As a young, African American entrepreneur, Mr. Amanuel knows how difficult it is to get by, let alone flourish in the relatively homogeneous community of Menlo Park, and has often used his success to help others.
While attempting to get directions from his brother, Mr. Amanuel allegedly made a turn from an improper lane, and was pulled over. Mr. Amanuel fully cooperated, quickly pulled aside, and presented his license and registration without hesitation. A typical traffic stop is generally quick and uneventful.
During this minor traffic stop several officers responded to the incident. Sergeant Ed Soares, who personally knew Amanuel, has a history of previously pointing a firearm at him in the past. Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, who was still with the police department despite...according to the Huffington Post having been discovered to be spending his on-duty time with a prostitute. There were ultimately several officers on the scene, all with a very unique history.
Why did all of these police have such a significant interest in Mr. Amanuel's minor infraction?
According to a civil rights lawsuit set for trial next month in the Northern District of California Federal Court, the unbecoming lineup of officers showed up to intimidate Mr. Amanuel and his brother, because both were witnesses against the police in an upcoming criminal trial . The facts seem to support the claim. Sergeant Soares said he was there to facilitate service of a trial subpoena on Amanuel. Mr. Amanuel was a defense witness, meaning that the prosecution had no duty to serve them, although he had already been served. Soares conspicuously said that Amanuel would go down for perjury depending on what he said at the trial. Perhaps not surprisingly, neither of the Amanuels appeared at the upcoming criminal trial.
Was this group of Menlo Park Police Officers trying to do their job? Not according to the judge at the criminal trial, who dismissed the case based on police misconduct and intimidation of witnesses.
According the to federal judge in Mr. Amanuel's civil rights lawsuit, who noted that the Constitution prohibits officers from detaining subjects for reasons unrelated to why they were stopped. And Mr. Amanuel's suit alleges more than that has occurred. He states that officers deliberately intimidated and harassed him for the improper purpose of affecting the outcome of a pending criminal case. The jury trial is set for July 27, 2015