Costa Mesa police investigating alleged racial profiling at traffic stop
Costa Mesa Police Chief Ron Lawrence said Saturday the department’s Professional Standards Bureau has launched an investigation into a traffic stop deemed by the motorist to be racial profiling.
“The Costa Mesa Police Department is aware of a video on social media involving one of our officers. We understand the concern regarding the officer’s dialogue during the traffic stop,” the chief tweeted Saturday. “We have received information from members of the public in regards to this incident and our departments’ Professional Standards Bureau is conducting a thorough and objective internal investigation.”
One of Abdullah Aden’s passengers recorded the incident, which has since gone viral on TikTok, ABC7 reported. The video shows Aden speaking with the officer from the driver’s seat after being pulled over Tuesday on Bristol Street.
Aden tells the officer he doesn’t have his driver’s license and gives him his driver’s license number instead.
The officer wants to search the vehicle but Aden says he has the right to refuse such a search. The officer disagrees and asks Aden if he is a lawyer. Aden says no but mentions he studied at “the number-one public university.”
“What, prison?” the officer asks.
Aden then corrects the officer, saying, “Berkeley.”
“Prison? Look at you ... racist,” Aden tells the officer. “I went to Berkeley.”
The officer remained persistent.
“When somebody doesn’t have ID, law enforcement has a right to search the vehicle,” he says.
“No, they don’t,” Aden replies.
“OK, well, look it up,” said the officer.
A legal expert told ABC7 that Aden was correct.
“This is just another example of how police use pretextual stops for petty offenses like tinted windows to try and pressure them into forfeiting their rights to be free from unreasonable searches,” Adrienna Wong, an ACLU senior staff attorney with the Police Practices Project, told the station. She cited the 2019 California Supreme Court case People v. Lopez, which she said clearly established that someone not having their identification is not sufficient reason to be able to search them.
Aden said the interaction made him want to educate the public on their Fourth Amendment rights.
“I wanted people to look at that video and say, ‘Hey, what can I do the next time I’m with a cop? Like, can I talk like that?’” said Aden during an interview with ABC7 on Friday.
He was cited for driving without a license and having tinted windows, but the vehicle was not searched.
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