Pismo Beach police hit with racial discrimination suit
March 10, 2015
Grover Beach resident Rayvell Snowden Jr. is suing the Pismo Beach Police Department in federal court, alleging officers racially discriminated against him in a 2012 burglary case.
Officers arrested Snowden, a 44-year-old African-American man, following a burglary of about $12,000 in high-end purses. Prior to arresting him, police kicked at his door, held him at gunpoint and ransacked his home, Snowden alleges.
Snowden spent three days in jail prior to posting $1,600 bail. The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office later filed felony burglary and grand theft charges against him.
But, less than a month after the arrest, prosecutors dismissed the case against Snowden, citing insufficient evidence.
Snowden’s attorney, Patrick Fisher, alleges that police had no probable cause to make the arrest. They merely saw him smoking a cigarette at an apartment complex they were investigating — and he was black, Fisher said.
A police report on the burglary indicated that store employees said they witnessed three black men snatch the purses. Officers made two other arrests in the case, and prosecutors eventually dropped charges against those defendants, as well.
City Attorney David Fleishman said the city had just received the lawsuit and he had not yet read it. But, Fleishman said the allegations have no merit. [Tribune]
The police department conducted a good investigation based on the information they had, Fleishman said. He added that Snowden filed an unsuccessful claim against the city in 2012.