Atascadero police sued over racial profiling

July 31, 2017

A lawsuit filed this month in San Luis Obispo Superior Court alleges Atascadero police unlawfully detained, questioned and searched a black man after spotting him with a white woman who happens to be his wife. The lawsuit alleges the Atascadero Police Department has a history of racial profiling. [New Times]

On Oct. 21, 2016, Kyle Bell of Visalia visited San Luis Obispo County with his wife and two children to spend a day at the beach. The lawsuit describes Bell, an Army reservist, as 6 feet 4 inches tall and “a very dark-complected black male.”

While heading home, Bell stopped in the parking lot at the Atascadero Police Department, thinking it would be a safe location to stretch his legs and smoke a cigarette before continuing the drive. An Atascadero police officer, later identified as Rochelle Hanson, approached Bell in the parking lot and began questioning him, saying he looked suspicious. Hanson then detained Bell using a “show of force” and searched his vehicle, according to the lawsuit.

Hanson also approached Bell’s wife and asked her, “Why are you here? Are you OK?” Officers eventually let Bell go.

Bell later filed a complaint with the police department. Bell and his attorney, Matthew Owdom, asked for an apology from the department and requested that officers receive training about racial bias. The police department refused to apologize and also refused to release Hanson’s body cam footage of the incident, Owdom said.

According to the lawsuit, Bell believes that his detention was based solely on his race and/or that his wife is a white woman. The suit also alleges the Atascadero Police Department has a history of depriving African-American citizens and persons of color of their constitutional rights.

Additionally, the lawsuit describes Atascadero as a “sundown town” with historical hostility toward interracial relationships.

Bell is suing for unspecified monetary damages and is requesting that the court appoint a special auditor to oversee rehabilitation measures within the police department.

Hanson is still a member of the police department. It is unclear if the department took any disciplinary action against her.







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33 Comments

  1. straddle says:

    If the officer had just talked to the guy and his wife, regardless of what she said, I don’t think we’d have a problem.

    But searching his car!! C’mon, the ADP blew it and whether it was a setup or not the guy is getting paid unless that bodycam footage gets aired and shows otherwise.

    And the fine residents of A get stuck with the bill.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. kayaknut says:

    I guess for the Atascadero Police department and many others you are guilty until you can prove your innocence, why worry about a little thing called the constitution.

    (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
    • DocT says:

      Police and other noblemen are presumed innocent.

      We serf’s are presumed guilty. Just like the Constitution says.

      If you want the freedom to speed, drink and drive, have parking tickets erased and generally be given a “pass,” make sure you have a noblemen in your family.

      If you want to have things enforced on you…..you need do nothing at all. They come to you!

      (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
  3. Betsy says:

    My family members of the tan side of the family love SLO County. They work here and their kids go to school here. When my granddaughter fell off her bike and hurt her leg on South Elm, numerous passers by stopped to help her, and AGPD was there stat to check that she was ok. Totally professional and very kind to a hurting little girl.

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  4. DocT says:

    So, it seems that some people want to believe that this was a “set up,” on Mr. Bell’s part.

    What wrong with Sting Operations? Don’t police conduct Sting Operations all the time? If Mr. Bell did indeed conduct a “set up,” then he sure knew what he was doing. He was successful right out of the gate! There’s a reason for this…..

    Someone please explain why it is considered OK for police to commit crime in order to entrap serfs, but it is not OK for serfs to entrap police without committing a crime?

    Of course, the body camera audio and video would be nice….especially if it’s unaltered. But those dang things turn themselves off at random times. Hopefully some smart techies are working on those recordings right now! You know, make sure no one who listens to them gets the wrong idea.

    It’s terrible for police to be above the law. But it’s even worse when the serfs also believe police to be above the law. That’s Stockholm Syndrome writ large.

    (-6) 22 Total Votes - 8 up - 14 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Don’t hold your breath for the body cam footage. We will only see it if it is favor of the officer, if it backs up Mr. Bell account we will be told there was a technical issue or that the officer didn’t turn it on, “oops my bad”.

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
    • DocT says:

      LOL. Everyone who works for A-town PD is on this one…..

      Ya’ll made a mistake and are gonna get sued. There will be a settlement, because if this went down according to the story here, there’s no defense.

      Since no arrests were made and no charges against Mr. Bell were forthcoming, it’s pretty important to see that body-cam footage…..if there is any.

      Like I’ve said so many times here: avoid police! Do not speak to them, do not call them, stay out of their way at all costs. Every encounter with police is potentially deadly and almost always costly.

      They no longer protect or serve…..they enforce! And they do this with ‘roid rage and above-the-law attitude.

      (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down

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